Grove Uses Soap for Snow
So, there I was on a Thursday evening having just walked out of a movie at The Grove's Pacific Theater when the top of the buildings began throwing up a white, watery substance all over the ground, all over the shoppers, all over everywhere.
The "snow" was welcomed by children who raised their arms closer to the sky and parents who snapped pictures of the glee.
I stuck out my hand, eager to feel the substance that isn't quite melting, but is disappearing in a mysterious fashion. I look around and notice black heads of hair turning white and red Christmas coats stained with manufactured holiday spirit.
I open my hand and look down to find my palm covered in suds, soapy white suds that look similar to the bubble baths I got used to on special occasions as a child.
Surely The Grove would not spew soap from the top of their buildings. Surely The Grove, an island of flying water works, sky scraping trees and Christmas lights that block out the sky would not mix in soap with the water in the name of a festive holiday.
Christmas can be a transformative time of year, even for a Jew such as myself. Places like The Grove undergo a metamorphosis of holiday spirit when the light from the moon is turned in for white lights and trees are a dark shade of red and gold.
I have no problem with any of that. While the incessant singing and the pulsating music can be headache inducing, people seem to be nicer and warmer and all that is great.
But apparently, they needed more at The Grove. Apparently, their holiday theme was incomplete and needed another push to drive the point home that this is Christmas, mother fucka's, and don't you forget it.
And it started to snow. And people loved it.
So, here I am, looking down at my palm sort of horrified that soap was spewing from the tops of buildings to children's eyes and mouths and not one word of question was mouthed by anyone within earshot.
I asked a security guard named Damian what the substance was.
"Good evening. I'm just wondering what substance you guys use for the snow."
"Well, I think it's soap, but I'm not sure. You'll have to ask the concierge."
I wait in line with others waiting to get their parking ticket stamped or questions answered about closures and presents and wow, I think, this concierge desk must know what they're doing because they won Best Concierge Service in 2002 from the Wall Street Journal.
Michael calls me over and I ask, "What substance do you use for the snow?"
He's incredulous and I assure him that I am actually interested and I am not fucking around/stoned.
"It's soap mixed with water."
"Really? Soap? Are you guys not concerned that it could get in people's eyes?"
He laughs, before assuring me, "Nah, man, it's safe."
"Have you had any injuries or people complaining of burning eyes from the soap?"
"What kind of soap is it?"
Another concierge worker interjects, saying, "You can rent umbrellas for a $20 deposit if it makes you uncomfortable."
At this point Michael's laughter gets the better of him and he goes in the back room where, presumably, he is telling his superiors about the soap dude out front.
I wait for one minute when two Grove officials come out to ask me "what the problem is."
"No problem, I'm just wondering what kind of soap you use for the snow."
"You are going to have to call our corporate office."
"OK. Well, can you tell me if it's safe?"
"You are going to have to call our corporate office," they say again. "But they are not open until after the holidays."
"Well, I would like to know now," I say.
They stammer. They look at each other until Cristina tells me they use a company called MagicSnow for all their snow services.
"And I don't know what kind of snow they use," she says by way of goodbye.
According to their website, MagicSnow uses a "self-cleaning snow product [that] 'falls on cue and disappears like magic!'" They have been asked to provide snow for New York's Radio City Christmas Spectacular and in Guatemala City for the world's largest indoor snowfall at Gran Centro Los Próceres.
Their office was closed Monday and while I want to believe there are no safety issues with their soapy snow, I remain concerned.
Anyone who has taken a shower or a bath at some point knows that soap can burn. While it can be washed out easily, it can still inflict some minor irritation that is at best uncomfortable and at worse temporarily visually impairing.
The Grove can be a silly, holiday infused alternative universe during the holidays. In as much as it exists in its own bubble, that's fine.
Admittedly, I am not an expert in fake snow and soap mixed with water might be the way everyone does it. Which, if that's the case, then I will gladly put down my keyboard. In the interest of full disclosure, I did not feel any burning or irritation, though I did not get any in my mouth or eyes.
However, until someone can assure me that it is safe and that spewing soap from the top of buildings is not harmful, there is a limit to how much acquiescence I have this holiday season.
Flickr image of a man spewing fake snow not at The Grove via Smoobs