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Mexico City Ice Rink Draws Thousands

It was billed as the world's largest ice skating rink, in one of the most unlikely locations -- warm, smog-filled Mexico City. As VOA's Alex Villarreal reports, the rink brought a unique form of fun to the capital that everyone could enjoy.

It might look like a conga line, but it is actually a world record attempt. A group of more than 200 Mexican children and teens is trying to form the world's longest human chain of ice skaters.

They made their attempt earlier this week at Mexico City's holiday attraction -- an enormous ice rink in the historic Zocalo Square.

The rink opened about a month ago to a crowd of thousands and was hugely popular with people of all ages before closing Friday [January 11th].

At more than 3,000 square meters, it was about twice the size of a professional hockey rink. It cost $1.5 million to build, but admission was free.

Marcelo Ebrard -- the city's populist mayor and a likely presidential candidate -- was behind the project -- part of his bid to make the city more fun and the fun more accessible for the city's poorer inhabitants. He explains, "The important thing is that it is free for everybody, especially for children, because they enjoy the Christmas season the most. We have to make sure they enjoy themselves, and have access to first-world installations, because they deserve it."

Earlier last year, Ebrard created several artificial beaches in the capital as city getaways for people too poor to go to the nation's real beaches.

Some residents criticize the mayor's ideas, saying the money would be better spent on fixing the city's problems. But that has not stopped the crowds.