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Sisters Keep A Skating Tradition Going Despite Great Distances

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Left to right, sisters Maureen and Leslie Campbell and Nora Sutton go ice skating every year together on Christmas Eve. Nora's sister, Roberta Sutton is missing Christmas because she's working in Sierra Leone, so they made a cut-out of her face.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

For two sets of sisters, Maureen and Leslie Campbell and Nora and Roberta Sutton, Christmas Eve means a trip to the Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink. No matter how far away the women move, they return to Sacramento year after year to lace up their skates.

However, this year, the group is one sister short.

Nora explains Roberta couldn't join them for the first time since the tradition started.

"My sister is in Sierra Leone right now,” explained Nora Sutton. “She studies international health. But, we made a life-size cutout of her face and put it on a stick with a Santa hat."

Sierra Leone is one of the West African nations currently dealing with the ebola outbreak.

The Campbell sisters, along with Nora Sutton and the cut-out version of her sister Roberta, took to the ice Wednesday. They all dressed in festive costumes; Leslie in full Buddy the Elf costume, Maureen in candy-cane leggings and Christmas sweater and Sutton as Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. 

"She might be more graceful on the skates like this," Sutton said, referring to Roberta's face on the stick.

The women said they've kept the tradition going because they don't deal well with change. They joke about the year the rink moved to J Street being particularly hard. Missing Roberta isn't easy either.

"It's hard not to have [Roberta] here, but I think it's really great that she can be in Sierra Leone," explained Nora Sutton. "She studies public health and she knows what you have to do to prevent getting ill, so I'm not concerned at all about her."

While they all grew up in Sacramento, none of the women currently live in the city. Maureen lives in Washington DC, Leslie lives in New Orleans and Nora Sutton lives in the Netherlands.

But, despite the geographical distance between them, the sisters come home to ice skate in Sacramento on Christmas Eve.

 


Our Multimedia Poducer Andrew Nixon captured these moments from the skating rink on Christmas eve.

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Catie Sinderquist (7), tries walking while wearing ice skates. Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

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Bill Blake, visiting from Minnesota, puts skates on his grandson, Gannon Blake (9), at the Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink on Christmas Eve. Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

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Caitlin Rutan accepts help from Russell Furey on their date to the Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink on Christmas Eve. Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

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Christine Senderquist and her son, Matt (8) walk to the skating rink entrance at the Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink. Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

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Participants laces up their ice skates at the Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink on Christmas Eve. Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

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The Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink attracts visitor on Christmas Eve. Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

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Sisters, Maureen and Leslie Campbell and Nora Sutton along with a cut-out of Nora's sister, Roberta Sutton, fufill a long-running Christmas Eve tradition of ice skating together. Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Melody Stone

Interactive Producer

After working in newspapers and doing print journalism for years, Melody transitioned into digital marketing and design. With a healthy blend of journalistic and digital media skills she builds out interactive web stories for Capradio.org.  Read Full Bio