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Chambersburg's IceFest goes on despite rain delay on first night

January 27, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Ice carvers from DiMartino Ice will be making giant ice sculptures during IceFest in downtown Chambersburg, Pa., from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday.
By Roxann Miller/Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Normally on the first night of IceFest, downtown Chambersburg is packed with curious spectators watching huge blocks of ice carved into frozen masterpieces.

But, not this year. The rain put a damper on the 10th annual event.

Not only is the rain going to erode the sculptures, but also attendance will be down, IceFest committee members said.

All of Thursday’s IceFest activities, including the ice carving, were postponed due to the rain.
The ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 5 p.m. today. Live carving is scheduled from 5 to 9 p.m.

The rest of the schedule should remain the same, IceFest chairwoman Penny Shaul said.

More than 10,000 festival-goers have admired the ice sculptures at past festivals, Shaul said.

She estimated the Ice Slide alone draws between 7,000 and 8,000 people.

“The reason it started initially is they wanted to expose people to a different kind of art because ice art is definitely an art form. And by January, everybody is getting antsy with the holidays over and (it’s) not quite Super Bowl so it’s just a nice thing to do outside,” Shaul said.

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This year’s event features 64 single sculptures – 10 more than last year – and seven giant ones, including a throne and the ice slide, she said.

IceFest, sponsored by the Downtown Business Council, Chambersburg Inc., and the Council for the Arts, started in 2003 to bring shoppers to the downtown area.

“Of course it benefits the businesses downtown because everybody who might not normally come downtown comes downtown for the IceFest and sees something in one of the windows or sees a restaurant they didn’t know existed – so it’s a win-win,” Shaul said.

Most of the IceFest events are free except for the chili cook-off, the “Firebird” ballet presented by Chambersburg Ballet Theatre and the Snowfall Ball at Central Presbyterian Church.

“But, for the most part you can walk around and look at all the sculptures and go down the slide for free all day long,” Shaul said.

She said most of the ice creations are between King and Washington streets.

Ernie DiMartino of Jeannette, Pa., and his ice carvers will have the ice chips flying tonight after Thursday night’s “rain delay.”

His team will work on the six- to 10-foot giants tonight from 5 to 9 p.m.

“We’re here to entertain,” DiMartino said.

He said the smaller sculptures already have been carved and are being stored in DiMartino’s refrigerated trucks.

“It’s a good excuse for people to get out in the wintertime. People have cabin fever so people look for an excuse to get out in the wintertime,” he said. “It doesn’t take long to create a work of art out of ice. People just like to see big ice. They are in awe of seeing ice cubes that are very big and our block of ice weighs 265 pounds.”

Editor's note: Corrects the schedule for the ice carving. Ernie DiMartino and his group will be carving Friday only.

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