Ice carvers get warm welcome downtown

January 30, 2004|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Mark Mastrangelo studied to be a chef, but the only carving he was doing Thursday afternoon was with a chain saw.

Mastrangelo sent a blizzard of ice crystals into the air as he sawed his way through nearly 3,000 pounds of ice to create a frozen throne detailed with a relief of the Memorial Square fountain. He was one of three ice sculptors working feverishly in frigid temperatures to create the works of art that are the centerpieces of IceFest 2004.

Along with seven large works being created on site Thursday and today, more than 40 smaller pieces, sponsored by local businesses, were arranged along the sidewalks of downtown, including valentines, a penguin, Pegasus, a piggy bank and a dolphin.


Carving was a talent Mastrangelo discovered in culinary school, working with fruits, vegetables, cheeses and chocolates, as well as the icy artworks that adorn events such as weddings and banquets.

"I have retired from cooking," Mastrangelo, of Philadelphia, said. "It was a little too stressful."

Mastrangelo was brought in for IceFest by Ernie DiMartino of DiMartino Ice Co. of Jeanette, Pa., whose trucks were unloading the pre-carved pieces and fresh 260-pound blocks of ice on sidewalks that had just been cleared of ice and snow dumped by three storms since Saturday.

"I've known Ernie for years. We used to compete on the ice circuit," Mastrangelo said of carving competitions around the country from September through March.

"I'm cold here. Can you imagine being him with all the ice blowing over you?" Carl Capraro of Chambersburg said as he and his wife watched Mastrangelo at work.

Dressed in ski garb, Mastrangelo said the work is both cold and arm-wearying.

Migrating around the square, a group from a home-schooling cooperative watched Robert Higareda of Jeanette carve a newspaper boy out of ice. He, too, had learned ice sculpting in a culinary arts school.

"It's fascinating to see how they do that and the tools they use," said Richard Vandervort of Chambersburg as he and his wife, Evelyn, strolled Main Street to look at the sculptures. He attended last year's inaugural IceFest and was particularly impressed by a carving of a 12-foot polar bear.

After the basic outline of the piece is carved with a chain saw, Mastrangelo said he uses grinders, drills and other tools for the finer details. He said once he completes the carving of the fountain logo on the throne, "we'll torch it."

Heating the sculpture with a propane torch melts away the dusting of ice crystals and tool marks, leaving the surface crystal clear, he said.

Sponsored by Downtown Chambersburg Inc., IceFest was accomplishing one of its goals Thursday - bringing a crowd of people downtown in the depths of winter.

In addition to more live carving this afternoon and this evening, visitors can sample the fare of food vendors and listen to live entertainment at downtown venues.

Bill Earley of Twice Read Books and Comics, 42 S. Main St., said IceFest is better for his business than some of the fair weather festivals where visitors are drawn to outdoor vendors. He said people will duck in to get out of the cold and perhaps buy a book.

"The ice festival I think is the best one. ... Usually, it's dead down here this time of year," he said.

If you go

IceFest 2004
Downtown Chambersburg, Pa.

Today through Sunday, Feb. 1


3 p.m., ice carving starts along Main Street.

Friday, Jan. 30

5 to 9 p.m., ice carving continues

6 to 9 p.m., horse-drawn sleigh rides depart from Kerrstown Square. Tickets cost $7 to $9. For reservations, call 1-717-328-2878.

Saturday, Jan. 31

10 a.m. to 3 p.m., horse-drawn sleigh rides continue.

11 a.m. to 1 p.m., chili cook-off at the Capitol Theatre, 159 S. Main St. Admission costs $1.

3 and 7 p.m., Missoula Children's Theatre performances of "Red Riding Hood" at the Capitol Theatre. Tickets cost $4 for children and $7 for adults, and can be purchased at the door or by calling the box office at 1-717-263-0202.

Ice sculptures on display all day.

Sunday, Feb. 1

Ice sculptures on display all day.

For more information, call 1-717-264-6883.

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