LEWISTOWN - This winter's Festival of Ice will freeze downtown Lewistown with ice sculptures, live music and old fashioned carriage rides to kick off the holiday season.
The Juniata River Valley's 14th annual Festival of Ice will carry the theme of "Jingle All the Way" down Market Street from Dec. 1 to 4. There will be numerous interactive events, such as the "Cookie Walk," the "Tree of Love Lighting Ceremony," indoor and outdoor concerts, and "Kiwanis Pancake Festival," amidst the ice carving and resulting five ice walls and 35 ice sculptures.
"It's such a fragile thing - ice - it melts so quickly, the wind melts it too," said Jill Haubrick, the Administrative Assistant at the Juniata River Valley Visitors Bureau. "And it's beautiful."
Sentinel file photo
An artist carves an ice sculpture at last year’s Festival of Ice in Lewistown. This year’s theme is ‘Jingle All the Way.’
DiMartino Ice, of Jeanette, will bring the ice to Lewistown in 250 pound blocks. The Pennsylvania National Guard Unit HHC 2-112th Infantry Stryker will provide great assistance in building ice structures. From 1 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 1, the ice walls will be built in the South Mall and beside the Historic Courthouse. The ice walls in the North Wall will be built from 1 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 2. Ernie DiMartino will lead the professionals in the carving of ice sculptures.
"It's amazing how artistic the guys are with chainsaws, irons, chisels, and blowtorches," said Haubrick.
All are welcome to watch the creating of the ice sculptures including familiar structures from past years - such as the "Gessinger Throne" in the South Mall and "Frosty the Snowman," beside the Historic Courthouse. The 35 one block ice sculptures will be carved from 1 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 2 and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 3. The seasonal and artistic sculptures are sponsored by local businesses and organizations. A few of the sculptures to be displayed are a Nittany Lion, a Christmas wreath, a mountain range, Santa's sleigh, a coffee mug, a lightning bolt, and a sphinx known as the "Essence of Egypt."
"You'll be able to sit on the throne, sit in the sleigh, sit in the snowman," said Haubrick, who also added that there will be the opportunity to take pictures with your face in the ice circle of a surprise sculpture.
The interactive activities continue into the nights of Dec. 2 and 3. From 5 to 8 p.m., the "Cookie Walk" will be in the St. John's Lutheran Church and inside the Historic Courthouse, allowing individuals to mix and match different cookies in buying a custom dozen. The McCoy House Museum on 17 N. Main St., will be hosting a "Victorian Christmas," with its building decorated by the Mifflin County Garden Club.
More events occurring between 5 and 9 p.m. on both Dec. 2 and 3 include the "Parade of Wreaths" at the Historic Courthouse, the "Train Display" at 3 W. Monuments, "Caricatures" by Dwight Kirkland of BlackLeaf Studios, "Santa's House" at the West Side Gallery, the presence of the Mifflin County Dairy Princess in the Historic Courthouse foyer, Jeanine Brought's "Folk Art Demonstration" in the Historic Courthouse Gift Shop, Indian Valley's "Live Mannequins" at Capperella Furniture, and "Old Fashioned Star Country Carriage Rides" on Monument Square to benefit local food banks. Through the nights, G-Man Entertainment will play music with correlating holiday videos outside the Juniata Valley Bank.
The "Tree of Love Lighting Ceremony," by Sun Home Hospice will commence at 6 p.m. on Dec. 2 in the parking lot of Juniata Valley Bank. Parker the Penguin, the Festival of Ice's mascot, will trigger the ceremony that turns on all the Christmas tree lights at once.
"It is in honor of loved ones that have passed," said Haubrick.
On Dec. 2, there will be a variety of songs and dances. Miss Stephanie's School will perform an exhibition at 8 p.m. on N. Main Street, the Sacred Heart Choir will carol through the streets then perform on the Historic Courthouse Steps at 7 p.m., and acoustic bluegrass music by RB Powell and Bridget Allen will resonate inside the Historic Courthouse until 9 p.m.
On Dec. 3, the live music in the Historic Courthouse continues. Chris Ruble will sing country and contemporary Christian music at 6 p.m., and Graham Sanders will vocalize his operatic voice at 7 p.m. before joining the Lewistown Community Band for a few numbers at 7:30 p.m.
On Dec. 4, the "Victorian Christmas, "Train Display," and "Santa's House" will proceed, while the event of the day will be the "Kiwanis Pancake Festival" at the First United Methodist Church from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the ensuing "Kiwanis Christmas Parade," where MERF Radio's "Cartoon Fantasy" will collect canned goods for donation.
The Festival of Ice will be an "escape to a scene that is brimming with merriment and wonder with beautifully carved ice sculptures, old-fashioned carriage rides, carolers, live music, children's activities, and Santa Claus himself," reads the Juniata River Valley press release.
Look for more details covering this year's Festival of Ice in the Wednesday, Dec. 1 edition of The Sentinel.