Chips, chunks fly as festival begins

February 03, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Rooster tails of ice chips flew off an electric chain saw as Mark Mastrangelo dug away at a ton and a half of ice on Memorial Square Thursday night to form a rearing elephant.

"I'm warm, but I'm wet," Mastrangelo said as he took a break from sculpting on a balmy February evening with temperatures in the mid-40s. "Although it's warm for the ice, it's good for the crowd," he said.

As the elephant took form, couples, families and groups of people would stop and watch for a few minutes before moving on to see another stack of 300-pound blocks transformed.


"Normally, I don't divulge what I'm working on till it's done ... This started out as a race car," Mastrangelo joked. Most of the 10 large sculptures for this fourth annual IceFest, half of which will be carved tonight, have a circus theme.

An ice sculpture of this size will usually take four to five hours to complete, said Mastrangelo, who has been carving ice for 18 years.

Across the square one of the icons of the annual IceFest, a frozen throne with the silhouette of the Memorial Square fountain carved into its back, was getting its finishing touches from another of the sculptors employed by the DiMartino Ice Co. of Jeannette, Pa.

Because of the warm temperatures, more than 50 smaller sculptures that are normally placed along the sidewalks on Thursday will be set out this afternoon. Mastrangelo said, however, that it will take something more than above average temperatures to have any serious effect on the figures.

"Sun is the worst. Then rain. Then warm temperatures," he said. Some rain was expected overnight and the temperature is supposed to reach about 50 today, but Saturday and Sunday will bring colder conditions for the final two days of the festival.

"I thought we'd come tonight because we heard it was supposed to rain," said Tracey Mowers of Chambersburg. Regardless of the weather, Mowers said she will be back to see the rest of the completed sculptures.

"I think the warmer weather is going to generate a lot of people," Downtown Chambersburg President Paul Cullinane said as a few hundred people strolled streets that are normally almost deserted on a weekday night in winter.

"We've been to them all. It's a good way to get us down here," said Ed Lapinski of Chambersburg as his wife, Paige, and children Lauren and Alex enjoyed some of the free cotton candy that was being handed out. Others sipped on free hot chocolate as they watched the sculptors work.

"This is what a hometown is supposed to be," said Lapinski, formerly of Philadelphia. "I'm glad I live in Chambersburg."

If you go

What: IceFest '06

When: Today, Saturday and Sunday. Carving will take place today from 5 to 8 p.m. Food vendors will be on hand today from 5 to 9 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Downtown businesses open late today, Saturday and Sunday.

Where: Downtown Chambersburg, Pa.

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