All eyes on Friday: Fire & Ice weekend

By on February 10, 2016
Lititz’s Fire & Ice Festival opens Friday night with live carvings, spectacular lights, and music at the bandshell.

Lititz’s Fire & Ice Festival opens Friday night with live carvings, spectacular lights, and music at the bandshell.

Fire & Ice’s 10th anniversary in 2015 was a spectacular and overwhelming success. The daunting question for the past year has been, “How do you top that?”

“For Friday night, it’s going to be the lights, and the bandshell,” is the answer from Dawn Rissmiller, Fire & Ice co-founder and chairperson.

Rissmiller and her crew of young Leos have been working tirelessly to prepare for year 11, which opens at 5 p.m. on Feb. 12 with more than 50 illuminated ice sculptures throughout Lititz Springs Park and the downtown area. There will be live sculpting throughout the evening by chainsaw-wielding ice artists in four locations (see map on pages A12-13), and some of the more intricate pieces include an interactive sliding board, the popular ice throne, and a wishing well.

The “lights” she referred to are once again the creative work of Stray Lighting & Production Services, headquartered on North Oak Street.

“Stray Lights is coming full-tilt with everything,” Rissmiller said. “They have some phenomenal plans for Friday night, and I think it’s going to blow everybody’s socks off.”

Entertainment is another huge component of the opening night party. Two local rock groups will brave the cold for performances at the park bandshell. Steel Radiance will be on stage from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. with a set of classic rock, blues, and a little country. Tonic For Dogma will play the rest of the evening. The park pavilions will also be busy with family activities, including performances by Pulse Dance Studio.

Meanwhile, a food truck court will be set up in the park parking lot, and Second Friday will be taking place throughout the downtown, so businesses along Broad and Main streets will be open late.

The combination of live guitars, a dazzling light show, sparkling ice sculptures, and the buzz of a chainsaw quartet should make for an unforgettable evening in Lititz. And that’s just the beginning of the festival.

Saturday’s Chili Cook-Off at the high school cafeteria, the heat of the weekend, will feature 22 local chili chefs, more than any previous year. An estimated 30,000 ounces of chili will be dished out from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to support at least 25 charities. If you like chili, and if you want to support a good cause, admission buttons are still available.

“Button sales are going really well,” Rissmiller said. “We made some big announcements with the chili judges, and that seemed to spark sales.”

The six judge panel is made up of Rissmiller, Clipper Magazine founder Steve Zuckerman, school board member Todd Rucci, basketball coach Chris Christensen, radio personality and Chameleon Club owner Holly Love, and reality TV star Jon Gosselin.

Gosselin may be the biggest of the “big announcements” that helped boost button sales.

He found fame through his appearances with then-wife Kate Gosselin and their eight children on the show “Jon & Kate Plus 8.” He co-authored the book “Multiple Blessings: Surviving to Thriving with Twins and Sextuplets,” with Kate Gosselin and Beth Carson, and the book made The New York Times Best Seller list. His divorce in 2009, and subsequent relationships and activities, have made him the target of the social media rumor mill.

“I’m a firm believer in ‘you can’t believe everything that you read’,” Rissmiller said about her decision to invite Gosselin to the cook-off. After meeting him through a mutual friend, she saw someone who is considerably different than what is revealed in a standard Google search.

“He was very humble, very kind, very polite,” she said. “He was totally not what I read or saw on TV, and everybody deserves a second chance.”

And at the end of the day, or at least on Saturday, he’s just a chili judge … and he’s a dad.

“He really just wants to be a good dad,” was Rissmiller’s final comment on that matter.

Chili buttons can still be purchased for $8 in advance of the event at Stauffers of Kissel Hill, Dosie Dough, Bombergers Store, and Zig’s Bakery & Café. Buttons at the door, if there are any left, cost $10.

Saturday also features the Winter Wonderland Carnival for kids and a Vendor Fair of local businesses and organizations, both taking place at the high school.

Saturday night, UNITE for Mini-THON is sponsoring a dance for high school students, and all proceeds go to the Four Diamonds Fund for pediatric cancer support. Pre-sale tickets are available at the high school during lunch this week, for $7.50. Tickets at the door are $10. The Skiffs, a local band of Warwick students, will perform.

Sunday is the student dodgeball tournament in the high school gym. There will be two divisions, middle school and high school, and it is open to Warwick students. The public is welcome to attend; admission is $1. Money raised will be given to the Lititz Leos Club to donate to a charity of their choice.

Also on Sunday, a free community movie night will be held at Linden Hall. Doors open at 6 p.m., and “The Incredibles” starts at 7 p.m.

Ice sculptures will remain on display through the end of the day on Monday.

For more Fire & Ice information visit

Stephen Seeber is the associate editor of the Record Express. He can be reached at or 721-4423.

Fire and Ice Logo, lititz leo club

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