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IceFest soothes cabin fever

January 29, 2009|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- The ice chips started to fly up and down Main Street Thursday afternoon as sculptors from DiMartino Ice dug into their work with electric chain saws, roughing out the major pieces for IceFest 2009.

"Talk about a steady hand. I can't even draw a straight line with a pencil," said Ron Ellis of Martinsburg, W.Va. He stopped on Memorial Square to watch Robert Higareda of DiMartino ice of Jeannette, Pa., turn a frozen stack of blocks into an icy throne.

"I'm just fascinated by the work he's doing," Ellis said.

In addition to the throne, Higareda said his company would be sculpting a smaller Teddy bear throne, an eagle, penguins, Eskimos, a bugler, a Humvee and a pirate ship. Another 45 smaller pieces, from the Pillsbury Doughboy to a really big frosted beer mug, were placed along the street, each sponsored by a business or institution.

James Kowalczuk used a hand truck to move an oil truck sculpture sponsored by McCleary Oil Co. to its designated spot.

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As the evening shadows lengthened, the streets downtown, usually almost deserted on a winter evening, had clusters of pedestrians strolling and stopping to look over the icy art, or ducking into business for a cup of coffee or a bite to eat.

In an ironic touch, a food vendor was chipping ice away from a parking spot on Memorial Square to better enable him to sell food to those who will come downtown this weekend to look at the ice.

"Basically, it's to get you out. Who wants to be stuck inside all winter?" asked Downtown Business Council Coordinator Tina Flohr. For the downtown merchants, IceFest "really boosts mid-winter sales," she said.

It is, Flohr said, the second biggest ice festival in Pennsylvania, behind one in State College, Pa.

Jared McAlister, a nine-year veteran of ice sculpting, and apprentice Elliott Fejes cut, sliced, filed and polished five of the 265-pound blocks of ice into the pirate ship. The largest sculpture, the throne, required 11 blocks, McAlister said.

McAlister and Fejes, who has been carving for about four years, will be heading to Alaska in February for the World Ice Art Championships.

Some of the eight giant pieces of sculpture will be carved tonight beginning at 5 p.m., according to the IceFest schedule. There will be art exhibits, crafts for kids, music and dance at the Capitol Theatre, and plenty of food for sale from vendors and downtown restaurants.

Those wishing to warm up inside may do so at the annual Chili Cook-off at Central Presbyterian Church at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by the hot pepper eating contest at 1 p.m. in the church. A fireworks extravaganza is set for 6:30 p.m. with the best viewing at Southgate Mall.

"Ice Age II" will be shown twice Sunday at the Capitol Theatre, at 1:30 p.m. in English and at 3:30 p.m. in Spanish.

On the Web



A schedule for IceFest 2009 is available online at www.icefestpa.com.

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