First Posted: 1/16/2014
I feel like I was the naïve newbie on the block when I brought the idea to the Abington Business and Professional Association board but I did have a few staunch supporters from the start.
I was only in business less than a year when I saw that Lewisburg was having an “Ice Festival” so I thought I would check it out. My sister, Joanie, and I took a day trip to see their inaugural event and it was cool. I believed it could work in Clarks Summit. The next day Mary Ann Nichols came bounding into the store. (At the time she owned Atlantic Fish and Fabulous Foods.) She was so excited to tell me about this Ice Festival in Lewisburg and that we should go check it out! I laughed! Barry Kaplan was there at the time and I explained that I had already been down to check it out and it was great. Barry was on board immediately.
Mary Ann and I took it to the ABPA and with a little coaxing we convinced them to go for it with the backing of Tim Franklin from Biondi Franklin Insurance our first major sponsor! We start with 12 sculptures and the next year it doubled. The number of sculptures has ebbed and flowed in some years depending on the economy but has reached over 60.
We have added a theme to each year’s festival, which has corresponded to the ice sculptures. In addition we expanded to include a parade, costume contests, family fun festival, live music and more.
Attendance to the festival has grown with the passing years as well. The first year there were 3,000 to 5,000 people and it has grown to the point we now expect up to 35,000 each year. Many people come from the Poconos, New York, and New Jerse, though they’ve been known to come from even further, including South Carolina. I was talking to someone in Pittsburgh and I mentioned I was from Clarks Summit and they had heard of the Ice Festival. That was a good feeling.
The whole reason to be involved with these events is to bring the community together. It brings families together. I love to see families walking on the street enjoying a hot chocolate and taking pictures even when the temperature is below freezing. It gets people out and about. It gives people something to do, free of charge, in the middle of February. It breaks up the winter blues after the holidays are done and Spring is still weeks away.
The Ice Festival also gives us the opportunity to show others what our community has to offer. By opening our doors to 30,000 visitors we have a great chance to showcase our businesses to not just people from out of town but also to those that live right around the corner that never get the occasion to stop by.
It’s an annual reunion. It’s a great event. It’s worth the work to see all the people enjoying themselves. It’s like taking a step back in time. There are no electronics needed. Simply take a stroll and enjoy the music, the ice and the entertainment. I could picture Norman Rockwell sketching the scene.