Thin ice Cold front needed for Lititz’s first big event of 2012

By on February 8, 2012

By: LAURIE KNOWLES CALLANAN Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer



Photo by Stephen Seeber
Lititz's annual Fire & Ice Festival will go on as planned, opening Feb. 17, but organizers are hoping for cooler weather. The warm winter has already forced them to scrap their ice skating party. The community rink behind Lititz Springs Park (above) had to be dismantled last week.Photo by Stephen Seeber
Lititz's annual Fire & Ice Festival will go on as planned, opening Feb. 17, but organizers are hoping for cooler weather. The warm winter has already forced them to scrap their ice skating party. The community rink behind Lititz Springs Park (above) had to be dismantled last week.

Faced with the warmest winter in recent memory, organizers for the annual Fire & Ice Festival in Lititz are hoping for chillier days as their three-day event approaches.

The festival, Lititz’s first big community event of the year, is set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 17-19.

The "fire" part of the event is a four-hour chili cook-off at Warwick High School on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Local chefs, both amateur and professional, will be competing for local bragging rights. Traditionally, this phase of Fire & Ice has been held at Lititz Elementary School, but the event has become so popular that the cafeteria there can’t contain the crowd. Besides, many of the Lititz Leos are high school students, so it only seemed natural to hold the event at their school.

The Leos, a youth faction of the Lititz Lions Club, run Fire & Ice each year.

So, while the "fire" is under control, it is the "ice" part that has planners a bit concerned. For one thing, all the gorgeous ice sculptures in downtown Lititz look a lot better when they are not melting. A few years ago, warm weather left the sculptures in puddles by the next morning. Much if the fun of Fire & Ice is to see the sculptures as they are being carved and then catching them again over the weekend, and sometimes well into the week.

"So let’s hope for colder weather, but not too cold," said Dawn Rissmiller, Leos advisor and one of the founders of the Fire & Ice Festival.

"That is the risk you have with a winter event," she acknowledged. "You have no control over the weather."

The idea behind the original Fire & Ice Festival when it was started by Lititz retailers in 2006 was to bring more business into town during the dead of winter. After the holiday season, retailers needed a nice boost for February. And it worked.

Crowds of fascinated people lined the streets of Lititz for the Friday night block party, as sculptures adorned nearly every store along Main Street and portions of Broad Street. Jewelry stores had ice sculpted "diamond rings," while other shops were accented with hearts, lions, tigers, flowers, candy bars, eagles and other motifs.

A huge ice sculpture is typically done near Lititz Square, where Main and Broad streets meet. Another large sculpture is often done near the post office for everyone to see. That’s a big part of the fun of the ice sculptures; huge blocks of ice are magically transformed into carvings that sparkle in the night air.

The Friday evening events in downtown Lititz also include entertainment, food vendors, games, activities and extended shop hours. Fire pits are set up to roast marshmallows on sticks. Music fills the air, and sometimes there is dancing in the streets.

This year, the reopening of an indoor market at Rudy’s Hall on East Main Street will add to the festivities. According to Lisa Terry of the market, the overwhelming success of their Christmas market has encouraged organizers to reopen the doors.

The market will be open during Fire & Ice on Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors can stop in and warm up while viewing items displayed by many local artists, crafters and market vendors, with more than 40 vendors under one roof.

"We hope that people will consider a donation of canned goods to our ongoing winter food drive to benefit the Central PA Food Bank," said Terry, adding that the food bank is the main distribution location for many non-profit agencies throughout Lititz and Lancaster that distribute food to the needy.

Vendors who are interested in displaying arts, crafts or homemade items, should check to see if spaces are still available by contacting Terry 267-278-2571, or e-mail lititzmainstreetmarket@gmail.com.

Another Fire & Ice highlight is the new Lititz Lions Club Back to School dance on Saturday from 8 to 10:30 p.m. at the Warwick High School cafeteria. The retro-style dance will feature D.J. Sid spinning tunes from the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Guests are encouraged to dress as they did in high school, whatever era that might be, from poodle skirts to hippy styles.

Tickets to the dance are available from any Lititz Lions Club member, Mark Hough State Farm Insurance, McElroy’s Pharmacy and Spacht Funeral Home. Cost is $10 in advance and $12 at the door. The dance benefits the vision impaired and the Lititz community.

Another new event is the Battle of the Bands, which will be held at the Warwick High School gymnasium on Saturday. Sponsored by the Leos, Battle of the Bands will feature local bands of all types vying for top prizes from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Cost is $3.

Saturday’s chili cook-off runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fifteen chefs with 15 different chili recipes will compete. People’s choice votes will earn funds for donations to designated charities, while local celebrity judges will rate recipes ranging from fiery hot to chocolate chili.

Visitors wear buttons that entitle them to sample all the chili recipes and cast their people’s choice vote. The cost for cook-off buttons is $5 before event and $7 at the door. Buttons can be purchased at The Curiosity Shoppe, 39 E. Main St.; Heavenly Soaps & Scents, 37 E. Main St.; or Bomberger’s, 555 Furnace Hills Pike (Rt. 501).

At the same time as the chili cook-off, the kids will have their time to shine at the indoor Winter Wonderland Carnival at the high school gym from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The fun will be geared toward younger children and include inflatables, games, food and entertainment.

While it is hoped that cooler weather puts a little more "ice" into the Fire & Ice Festival, one event has already been eliminated from the activities of Sunday. The outdoor skating party had to be postponed until next year due to warm weather in 2012.

"It just hasn’t been cold enough for ice skating," Rissmiller said.

She and all the Leos are hoping it will be cold enough for ice sculptures and hot enough for chili on a not-too-cold and not-too-hot weekend in February.

? Friday Block Party with ice

sculptures, music, entertainment, food

runs from 5 to 9 p.m.

? Saturday Chili Cook-Off

at Warwick High School is from

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Buttons: $5 in

advance, $7 at the door

? Winter Carnival at the

Warwick High School gym,

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets needed

for rides.

? Battle of the Bands at the

Warwick High School gym is from

7 to 10:30 p.m. Cost is $3.

? Lititz Lions Back to School Dance

at WHS cafeteria is from

8 to 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

For more information, call

Dawn Rissmiller at 371-1846

or Tammy Boltz at 468-0825;

e-mail: lititzleoclub@gmail.com

website: lititzfireandicefestival.com Ice & Festival Feb. 17, 18, 19

Sponsored by

Lititz Leos More FIRE & ICE, page A14

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