Ready to bring the heat

By on February 6, 2019

Holly DeKarske has been hard at work to ensure that this year’s Fire & Ice event in Lititz will be the best one yet.

And there’s no easy task when you consider the countless moving parts involved in finding space to park over 20 food trucks, planning for two-day road closures, placing portable restrooms, finding room for 75 ice carvings, live music stages both days, and countless other plans both expected and unexpected, that will need to be worked through.

Originally, the popular festival began as a means to increase foot traffic for the downtown businesses during the otherwise less busier season of winter. The idea worked like a charm, and many merchants now point to this particular weekend as one of the busiest of the entire year.

Each year the celebration’s popularity grew, and it was through this growth that the event quickly was elevated neck and neck with the Lititz Rotary Craft Show, which traditionally has drawn the largest crowds in Lititz history. The annual 4th of July celebration in the Lititz Springs Park rounds out the list of the three most highly attended events during the year. The event, now in its 14th year, has come a long way from that first celebration in 2005. Last year, due to a change in event leadership, there was even talk that the festival may not continue. But this is Lititz afterall, and many passionate volunteers stepped up to make the yearly gathering a reality.

This is the second year that Holly DeKarske, Executive Director of Venture Lititz, (a Main Street program), will be at the lead.

“Last year was a challenge, being so new in my job at Venture Lititz and to Lititz, but it was made easier by the fact that I had been involved with Chambersburg’s Icefest which the Lititz Fire & Ice event had been developed from, and worked with DiMartino Ice before,” DeKarske said. DeKarske states that Fire & Ice is a perfect event for Lititz’s Main Street Program, Venture Lititz to handle since it is in line with the organization’s mission.

“The draw it creates in a time of year that can be a bit slow and at the same time can be a fundraising event for our nonprofit. People told me the event was well attended, but you really can’t understand that until you experience it,” DeKarske said.

Organizers behind this year’s Fire & Ice include (l to r) Lititz Police Chief Kerry Nye, Jason Burkholder, Jonathan Wenger, Holly DeKarske, Donna Felton, Jill Colbert, Sheila Hough, Matthew Snavely, Mark Hough. Not pictured are Jerry McKonly and Chris Strayer. Photo via Venture Lititz. 

This year, there’s also no need for fighting for a close parking space or long walks back to your car. That’s because shuttle buses have been added, and will be running from Kissel Hill Elementary School, 215 Landis Valley Rd. to a drop off point right at the edge of the action downtown. The addition of this service is the first step in trying to alleviate heavy traffic and the question of “where do I park?” for those coming from out of town.

The shuttle will pick attendees up at the school and take them to the shuttle drop off location at the intersection of East Orange Street and Route 501. Once visitors are ready to return to their car, they can just go back to the drop off location and wait for the shuttle to return.

There will be two shuttles which will run continuously as they fill up, and depart and return as needed from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Shuttles are provided by Venture Lititz and the Lititz Lions at no cost, however donations are appreciated. Designated handicap parking will also be available, and will be located in the new Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health parking lot adjacent to the Parkview Hotel along Broad Street.

Another change for 2019 will be a two-day street closure. DeKarske states that this move will really help with the crowds Saturday, and will also make it safer for attendees and their families to easily travel all over downtown Lititz.

Dekarske and her entire team behind the scenes want to remind attendees that the downtown streets will close Feb. 15 beginning at approximately 3 p.m to Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. Broad Street will close from Orange Street to Front Street. East Main Street will also be closed from Broad Street to Cedar Street as well as the first half block of West Main Street. DeKarske also mentioned the addition of a new stage for live music, which will be set up at the corner of Main and Broad Streets Friday and Saturday. This enhancement is made possible through locally based company Stray Production Services.

“This year’s goal was to make it easier for everyone to get around and enjoy the event,” she added. “Closing the streets on Saturday was part of that, there were safety issues, and I think that will be alleviated this year.”

“It allows us the chance to have the stage up for two days and offer music both days,” she said. “It also provides a way for food trucks to be located in the same spot each day on Broad Street.”

“We did music last year on Friday, but this new stage and location will allow us to have music more centrally located to the event and offer it both days,” she says. “Plus, if you attended Beer Fest you know what an impressive stage it was. Of course, this is only possible due to our stage sponsor LOA Orthodontics and our entertainment is provided by Wilbur and Red Rose Cabinetry.
Yet another change from past years will be the number of ice sculptures — about 75 in all­ that will be set up all over the downtown. Attendees will also have the opportunity to view many carvings in the making at several locations throughout Lititz. DiMartino Ice Company are once again the wizards behind this frozen artistry.

“We have more sculptures this year and a lot of sponsors opted for ‘interactive’ which we love, giving our attendees great opportunities for photo ops,” DeKarske stated. Local nonprofits were located by the caboose in the Lititz Springs Park last year. Even more will return for 2019 during both days of the event. Weaver Energy will also be sponsoring a heat tunnel which will be located on East Main Street in conjunction with Stray Production Services. The word on the street is that these businesses have a fun plan in place to warm everyone up.

Despite each member of her team working together, DeKarske says that communication about the upcoming event was often a challenge.

“As you know this event prior to 2018 was handled by someone else,” she said “There was a lot of incorrect information out there, and old social media sites, etc. Now having the old social media for the event finally gone, and focusing everyone to the correct social media and website has helped us communicate with everyone more effectively.” DeKarske would also like to thank the incredible support from the Lititz Record Express, LNP, Blue Ridge Communications and Lamar Advertising in helping to get the word out. Once the event arrives, she’s looking forward to enjoying many aspects of Fire & Ice. She notes that the stage and performances, as well as the fire surprise from Pyrotek and Rhoads Energy (which will also be a surprise to her) are at the top of her list.

DeKarske also points to the Bomberger’s set up with Charis and Edward Jones, and interactive sculptures that Woodstream, Moravian Manor, Gauer’s Paint and UPMC have in store.

“I think they are going to be really great for photo opportunities and totally new to our event,” she said. “My favorite ice sculptures are the interactive ones, thrones, chairs, ones you can pop behind and put your face up too.” Although the event is held during mid-February, she and her team are hoping for perfect temperatures.

“Say a little prayer to the weather Gods for no rain, and temps in the 30­40 range would be a bonus, but I think we can all do without the rain,” she says. “And I want to say thank you to our planning committee, Stray, our sponsors, and our volunteers, without them this would not be possible. This event is a lot of work, a lot work, and takes a team of people to pull it off.”
For more information on this year’s event visit lititzfireandice.com.

Be sure to check out our 8-page Fire & Ice special tab only in this week’s Lititz Record Express!

Cory Van Brookhoven is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your comments at cvanbrookhoven@lnpnews.com or 717-721-4423. 

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