Fire & Ice is finally here!

By on February 15, 2017

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If The Weather Channel is to be trusted, Fire & Ice weekend looks to be unseasonably warm — except for Friday night, when near-freezing temperatures are expected during the Block Party. This is great news for the ice sculptures, but attendees are advised to dress warmly.

Fire & Ice opens Friday with a massive display of illuminated ice sculptures throughout the downtown and in Lititz Springs Park. Ice sculptors armed with chainsaws will be carving some of the bigger displays at several locations that night, starting around 5 p.m. Broad and Main streets in the downtown area will be closed to traffic to accommodate the anticipated crowd. An estimated 40,000 attended last year’s event. There will also be live music and food trucks to add to the festive atmosphere. And this is just opening night.

The weekend’s festivities include:

  • Block Party — Enjoy the ice sculptures downtown and in Lititz Springs Park. Sample the wares of the many vendors, and check out some of the entertainers. The Rose Hudson Band will be the featured band at the Fire & Ice on the main stage in Lititz Springs Park. The fun lasts until 9 p.m. — or later, if you stop by one of the local hangouts.
  • Chili Cook-Off — The annual Fire & Ice Chili Cook-Off will be held Saturday, Feb. 18, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Warwick High School cafeteria. A limited number of chili-taster buttons will still be for sale at the door.
  • Winter Wonderland Carnival — This indoor fun fest for kids 10 and under will be held in the Warwick High School large gym on Feb. 18, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Vendor Fair — Meet local vendors, artisans, and shop owners on Feb. 18. from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Warwick High School small gym.
  • Concert — Linden Hall School will present a free Fire & Ice-themed concert on Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. in the Mary Dixon Chapel on the Linden Hall campus, 212 E. Main St.
  • Dodgeball Tourney — A middle/high school dodgeball tournament will be held Feb. 19, from 1 to 5 p.m., in the Warwick High School large gym. Spectators are encouraged.
  • Movie Night — A community movie night featuring “The Lion King” will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 19 at Linden Hall’s auditorium.
  • President’s Day — Enjoy the ice sculptures and catch one more day of downtown shopping on Monday, Feb. 20.

 

It takes a village…

The Fire & Ice committee is led by Dawn Rissmiller, who’s been at the reigns since the event’s inception.

“The Leo Club is so lucky to have Dawn Rissmiller as the club advisor,” said club president Alex Myers. “She has taught me and my peers so much about what it means to be a leader and what it means to serve. She spends countless hours on the event, and I am certain that it would not be a success without her. Dawn most certainly represents the core values of a Leo.”

Rissmiller will be the first to admit that without the help of many hard-working volunteers, the event simply wouldn’t take place. One of her staunchest supporters is her mother, Jean Gruen.

“I have been involved with Fire & Ice from the beginning,” Gruen said. “My basic role is to support Dawn in whatever way possible — whether to make her a meal, calm her nerves, or just listen. I have seen this festival go from a tiny little event to something that even I, who has a vivid imagination, cannot imagine. This has been Dawn’s passion since the very first year. I have seen how hard she has worked to make every little detail come together to make this a memorable weekend for all who live and work in Lititz, as well as the thousands of visitors that come to our little town.

“My favorite thing about Fire & Ice is seeing how Stray Lighting has enhanced the DiMartino ice sculptures. Truly a magnificent thing to behold.”

A majority of the volunteers are members of the Lititz Leo Club, a division of the Lions Club for those age 14-18.

Myers, a senior at Warwick High School, has been involved with Fire & Ice for the past six years.

“We really rely on our Leos to staff the event from Friday to Sunday,” Myers said. “It is a great experience for them, and they learn a lot about serving the community, dealing with customers, and communicating with adults and peers. Dawn and I try our best to make the event a learning experience for everyone who volunteers. We truly appreciate the support of our Leos and their parents.

“I always tell the Leos that they should be proud of their work in the Fire & Ice event. I am truly proud to be part of something that has such a positive impact on the community as a whole. I think that the community aspect of Fire & Ice and teaching my peers what it means to serve and lead others are my favorite parts.”

This will be volunteer Katie Smith’s first time working at Fire & Ice.

“I am assisting this year with the food vendors getting set up Friday. I have lots of warm clothes and UGG boots ready!” she said. “I have attended the event for many years and love how Dawn gets all the Lititz Leo members so involved in planning and organizing the event. Students and volunteers play an integral role in making this event a success; it’s a great experience for kids to be so involved.”

Like most of her fellow volunteers, Smith has lived in Lititz for many years.

“I have lived in Lititz nearly 20 years, and have watched this event grow each year into such a tremendous experience for those who attend,” she said. “DiMartino Ice creates an ice sculpture ‘live’ while crowds watch in wonder. It is one of those events that truly makes Lititz one of the coolest small towns in America!”

More details, including a map and a list of Fire & Ice sponsors, can be found at lititzfireandicefestival.com.

Melissa Hunnefield is a staff writer at the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your questions and comments at 721-4452 or mhunnefield.eph@lnpnews.com.

 

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