Downtown streets will close for Fire & Ice opening night

By on November 30, 2016
An ice sculptor works on one of the Fire & Ice displays during a past festival in Lititz. Attendance for the February event has grown each year, and blocks of Main and Broad streets will be closed for the opening night of the 2017 festival. (photo by Dan Marschka)

An ice sculptor works on one of the Fire & Ice displays during a past festival in Lititz. Attendance for the February event has grown each year, and blocks of Main and Broad streets will be closed for the opening night of the 2017 festival. (photo by Dan Marschka)

With the Fire & Ice Festival a little more than two months away, Lititz Borough Council agreed to close the first block of East Main Street and two blocks on Broad Street to accommodate the growing event’s opening night.

“We never expected the crowd to be that big last time, especially on a cold winter night,” said Dawn Rissmiller, who has organized the festival since its start 11 years ago.

The last Fire & Ice was so packed with people that Rissmiller attended last month’s council meeting to request that borough council consider closing East Main Street from the square to Water Street for the 2017 festival, which is scheduled to run Feb. 17-20. After sitting down with Lititz Borough Police Chief Kerry Nye, they came up with a new plan that was approved by council Tuesday night.

“We think this will solve the problems we had last time, when we didn’t close the Main Street at all,” said Rissmiller. “I really do appreciate Chief Nye’s work on this.”

The plan for the upcoming Fire & Ice Festival is a scaled down version of the street closings for the massive Rotary Craft Show in August, which has attracted estimated crowds of 40,000. Council agreed with the plan to close East Main Street from Broad to Cedar Street, as well as South Broad to Orange Street, and North Broad to Front Street, for the opening night block party on Feb. 17.

Organizers for the festival will provide mapping for 10 parking lots in the borough to handle the anticipated crowd. Food businesses, like Sugar Whipped Bakery and JoBoy’s Brew Pub, will be allowed to park their food trucks in front of their businesses. Music, performers, entertainers and ice sculptures will line the streets.

The opening night block party will also be held in Lititz Springs Park, with sculptures, lights and entertainment.

“I think this will be much safer,” said Rissmiller, who works closely with the festival’s sponsors, the Lititz Leos, a youth group associated with the Lions Club.

During past festivals, the huge crowds created safety issues on East Main Street when the street was not closed to vehicle traffic. Pedestrians had trouble crossing the street, and ice sculptors did not have enough room to work. Recent crowds have rivaled the August craft show, with the added hazard of being held at night.

Laura Knowles is a local freelance reporter who covers the Lititz Borough municipal beat for the Record Express. She welcomes reader feedback and story tips at lknowles21@gmail.com.

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