At 6:00 p.m. MagicSnow®flakes (actually small clumps of tiny bubbles) drift from the high ceiling onto the heads below. "White Christmas" oozes out of hidden speakers. Children go bonkers, dancing, laughing, sticking out their tongues. According to the curators at Pacific Place, MagicSnow® is "biodegradable, nontoxic, nonstaining, eco-friendly," but one woman, looking panicked, brushes the fast-dissolving bubbles off her black leather jacket. Diners in the first-floor cafe cover their soups and salads. One couple holds hands across their table. Children continue to go bonkers.
On the third floor, a small, dark Cuban comes down the escalator. It is Pedro, the diminutive icon of eccentricity who stands on Sixth and Pine with his colorful baton; his hoarse, heavily accented rant; and his hand-lettered signs: "Seattle Police and Frye Apartments devil communist you are damn liar! Catholic you are Satan Father of Liar!"
He has been downtown, yelling nonstop, for decades. But, for the moment, he is reduced to a theatrical quietude. He stops at the balcony (his baton tucked under his arm, his sign wrapped in translucent plastic), watches the MagicSnow®, then turns and smiles.