Ah, summer in Orange County. You have your bathing suits and your ice cream and tank tops and those hats with the miniature fans whirring on the front and your mittens and your flannel scarves and your knit hats and your down jackets.
Wait. You don't actually wear any of those last few items around the beachy playground in July, unless, of course, you're visiting Fairenheit 32°, the OC Fair's ice-nice wonderland.
The chillsome playground will run the length of the annual midway-and-more extravaganza, which is on, most days, from Friday, July 17 through Aug. 16.
Yes, we typed Fairenheit 32°, and, nope, it wasn't a typo -- the 125-year-old county fair can't resisting "fair"-ing stuff up, when it can. And while "playground" suggestion might denote swings and slides, you can find those out in the midway. The cold center of the Plaza Pacifica-based party boasts two distinct halves: ice skating and ice carving.
As for the ice skating? It's actual honest "real ice," just in case you suspected fair-style magic might be at work. You don't need mittens or a knit cap but consider that you might feel chilly after a few spins.
And evening skating -- "After Dark Skate Party" -- twirls from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. each day the fair is open. If you shut your eyes real tight, come night, you can almost pretend, without the warm sun, it is winter.
But don't shut your eyes: You'll want to see the pro ice carving that's adjacent to the rink. You can see maestros of the chilliest chainsaws to ever slice through frozen water do their whimsical work, and you can see recent examples of sculptures carved right on the grounds of the OC Fair & Event Center.
All we can say is this: Southern California's creative county fairs are so often on the forefront of every culinary wave -- Caviar Twinkies, anyone? -- we can only suspect that, with this whole ice-fun-cold thing, they got the memo ahead of time that El Niño was on approach for the first time in years.
A little frosty time on the OC Fair rink may well prepare we sunshine-soaked SoCalers for cooler, wetter days to come.