Skating with Santa: Simi Valley rink helps people with disabilities enjoy holiday party on ice

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- Part of the joy of the holiday season is getting out on the ice.

So, professional skaters from the Iceoplex in Simi Valley made sure that winter experience was something people of all abilities could enjoy.

At the 7th annual "Start the New Year with a Smile" event, over 300 guests were invited to watch a spectacular ice show and then get on the ice themselves.

Many of the guests at the rink were from The Arc of Ventura County. It's a nonprofit organization for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

"They're just great people and they appreciate it. It's an outing they don't normally get and everybody here just loves doing it," said Scott Slinger, owner of Iceoplex.

After the big choreographed show, it was time for the participants from The Arc to get on the ice.

Mitchell Garcia is a case manager for The Arc of Ventura County.

He said, "This year they made it very personal by getting two of our participants on the ice. They just light up and they really do love this time of year. And we're blessed to be a part of this."

All 300 guests got the chance to get in their wheelchairs or ride in Santa's sleigh on the ice.

And they didn't leave empty-handed. Everyone got new cozy blankets and snacks.

It's both a Christmas celebration, but also somewhat of an appreciation party - as many of these participants work at the rink year -round.

"We employ Arc," Slinger said. "They come in three times to meet with their clients and they do surface light cleaning of the facility. We've been doing that for 18 years."

Santa Claus made sure to roll out the red carpet for the hard-working and deserving members of the Iceoplex family.
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