Wednesday, January 2, 2013

On Ice for New Year's

The Galleria was open on New Year's Day.  I (guiltily) admit to being there.  I don't even have the excuse of returning ill-fitting Christmas presents.  Simply, I was in town and the lure of 60%-off sales was too great.

Maybe the Galleria is always open on New Year's.  I mean, if it's not open, where do all of the visiting  tourists spend their time and money?  Usually, though, I am out-of-town at New Year's (preferably somewhere snowy), generally where the locals cuss under their breath about all those damn Texans in town.  So, I'm not griping about the out-of-town shoppers.  Merely observing that I had to wait to snap this quick shot of the Galleria's Christmas tree on the ice rink, then try to explain to those waiting that I intended to take a picture without them or anyone else in it.  Plus, I wasn't nearly as dressed up as they were, so maybe they thought I was just a peasant, or something.

The Galleria Ice Rink has always fascinated me.  As a child, newly moved to Houston, I thought the rink and Marvin Zindler were surely among the Eight Wonders of the World.  Having moved here from po-dunk, I had big eyes trying to take in the three-story gallery and an ice rink beneath.  Ice, when it's hotter than Hades outside?  And a three-story mall?  In my then-limited experience, we'd had to drive over an hour to reach the nearest mall of any size--itself one-story except for the few anchor stores topping out at two.

The Galleria, rink-level (I didn't take this picture).
The Galleria opened in 1970 and was supposedly modeled after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan: 

File:Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II - evening.jpg
Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The latter was built in the 1880s, so maybe with another 60 years, we'll look stately, too.  I'd just like to point out the Prada store in the picture of Milan's Galleria.  Houston's Galleria has the only Prada store in Texas.  So take that, Dallas.

The Galleria's ice rink is 80 feet by 180 feet (or 24 x 55 meters if you're thinking in Italian).  It was the first ice rink in a shopping mall (which means Memorial City Mall's is a wannabe).  The Christmas tree is 55 feet tall, festooned with 450,000 lights and 5000 ornaments.  They formally light it at an Ice Spectacular in early November.  This impresses me if for no reason other than they wait until after Halloween to do it.  This year's was the 24th Ice Spectacular, and reality-TV contestant (The Voice) and local girl RaeLynn headlined the event.

I don't know how long they leave the tree up.  I vote for leaving it through January 6.  Why?  It's the culmination of the Twelfth Day of Christmas, you know.  Also called Twelfth Night.  Aka Epiphany.  Aka Three Kings Day.  Aka Dia de los Reyes.*  And if there's an important gift-giving day for an important part of the Galleria's visiting clientele, let's provide.  (Hint, hint, I'm okay with shoes from Prada, no need to fill them for me).

small and blurry

*If you can't be bothered with the hyperlink, Dia de los Reyes celebrates the arrival in Bethlehem of the three magi, bearing gold, frankincense, and myrrh for the newborn Christ.  Bonus points if you knew the three kings were named Melchior, Gaspar,and Balthazar.  Three Kings Day is a major gift-giving day in some Latin American countries, and in Mexico, children leave out their shoes to be filled by the three kings.

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