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Organizers hope Ice Fest is start of something

February 04, 2003|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The diamond ring in front of Ludwig's Jewelers had lost some of its luster by Monday afternoon.

Out in the sun, rain and snow since Thursday, the once brilliant and sparkling ice sculpture took on a frosty glow.

But organizers said Chambersburg's first ice festival was a success, luring thousands of residents from the Tri-State area to Main Street this weekend.

"I believe it actually reacquainted so many people in this community with the downtown," said Paul Cullinane, director of Downtown Chambersburg Inc., which organized Ice Fest 2003 with the Chambersburg Area Council for the Arts.

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Nearly 60 businesses and associations sponsored 39 sculptures that lined Memorial Square and Main Street from Thursday to Sunday.

Some of the sculptures were still in place Monday, but Cullinane said the smaller ones would be moved to the flower beds on the square and some of the larger ones would be dismantled as early as today.

"We don't want to take a chance of them getting weak from warm weather," Cullinane said.

The temperatures over the weekend were perfect for the event.

"We're pleased it wasn't colder and it wasn't warmer. The weather we had earlier in the month would have been too cold," said Anne Finucane, gallery director for the Council for the Arts.

Finucane and Cullinane said they were looking toward next year.

The planning committee will meet next week to talk about ways to improve this year's event.

"Oh, I think we will do it again. If anything, I hope there are more sculptures and more auxiliary events, like more music and vendors," Finucane said.

Cullinane said some shops stayed open late during the festival so visitors could take a break from the cold, and the volume of customers overwhelmed the downtown restaurants.

"It was an amazing experience to go through this. One merchant said this was probably the most significant event downtown has done in recent memory," Cullinane said.

He said hundreds turned out Thursday and Friday to see sculptors from DiMartino and Associates carve the five largest sculptures and admire the smaller ones that lined Main Street.

"It was something for all ages," he said, noting the number of families and seniors who strolled past the sculptures.

"There is no doubt we will do it next year and make it even better," Cullinane said.

He said there is always a learning curve with the inaugural event, and next year the committee will plan more food and entertainment opportunities.

He said the festival met the goal of bringing more people downtown during a typically slow time of year.

"I'm very appreciative to the community for turning out and braving the cold, rain and snow," Cullinane said. "It's something they will always remember about their community."

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