CLARKS SUMMIT — A flying car here, a dragon there. Little by little, over the past couple weeks, the borough and surrounding area as we know them have been transforming into another world – a world of wizards and magic. This weekend, that transformation will be complete.
The Abington Business and Professional Association (ABPA) will present the 14th Annual Clarks Summit Festival of Ice from Friday, Feb. 16 through Monday, Feb. 19 at dozens of locations throughout the Abingtons. This year’s festival theme, The Wizarding World of Ice, is inspired by the Harry Potter movies and books by J.K. Rowling.
According to ABPA Executive Director Laura Ancherani, the inspiration for the theme came partially from her family’s recent trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios.
“I was so awestruck by it – going into Diagon Alley, and hearing the bricks moving, and the music – you’re just transported into the actual (wizarding) world,” Ancherani said, describing the experience. “And that’s what appealed to me so much – that we could turn Clarks Summit into another world.”
Art students from Abington Heights High School and Howard Gardner MICS began painting scenes relating to the theme onto storefront windows around town on Feb. 13. Later this week, several local businesses will be temporarily re-named in honor of places in the fictional stories, with The Gathering Place becoming Hogwarts, Fidelity Bank turning into Gringott’s Bank, and State Street Grill being dubbed The Leaky Cauldron, to name just a few. And on Friday, more than 50 ice sculptures, created by Sculpted Ice Works, will be unveiled, revealing characters, symbols and objects from the Harry Potter stories.
The festival will kick off on Friday with a Family Fun Faire from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at The Gathering Place and a parade, starting at 7:30 p.m. along South State Street. This year’s Festival of Ice Parade is different from those of past years, in that community members are invited to dress in their best wizard wear and march along as “Dumbledore’s Army.”
A wide range of family-friendly activities are scheduled throughout the weekend, including live music, ice carving demonstrations, horse and carriage rides, trolley rides, crafts, live music, movie screenings, games, art shows and more. New this year is a vendor fair upstairs in the Clarks Summit Borough Building (above The Gathering Place). Titled Diagon Alley, after the magical marketplace in the Harry Potter series, it will feature various items for sale, such as handmade wands, jewelry, baked goods and other souvenirs.
Another new addition to this year’s festival is a Bird Education Station presented by the Endless Mountains Nature Center from 11 a.m. to noon on Sunday at “Eeylops Owl Emporium” in Diagon Alley, with a Raptors Rule: Live Birds of Prey Show, scheduled for 12:30 to 1:30 that afternoon.
A full schedule of events is available online at bit.ly/2nZMFKM and on the festival’s mobile app.
The Gathering Place, 304 S. State St., will serve as this year’s welcome center. Board member Anne Armezzani said visitors can expect a “magical atmosphere,” with lots of Harry Potter characters with which to take selfies, and various themed activities to participate in throughout the weekend.
The Gathering Place will also double as The Three Broomsticks, offering food for sale, including soup, hamburgers, hot dogs and more.
“This theme is just lighting up the whole town.” said Armezzani. “The decorated windows…the merchants are all getting into it – it’s really bringing the whole town together, and we should have a record turnout. It should be great fun.”
Festival committee member Renee Roberts, from the Abington Community Library, said when she first learned of this year’s theme, she and her co-workers were “thrilled.”
“I was immediately so excited that they were highlighting Harry Potter,” she said, adding the ideas started spilling in right away.
The library will host several festival activities throughout the weekend. To register or learn more, stop by the library or call 570-587-3440.
Roberts said she is especially excited about the the “Care of Magical Creatures” event she and her co-worker Laura Gardoski have planned for 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“I think it’s just a really fun way for parents and kids to be involved together, and explore all things Harry Potter,” she said.
The same applies to the ABPA’s goal for the entire festival.
“We’re really hoping that people will come out and dress up, and immerse themselves in the whole experience,” said Ancherani. “And for adults to be transported back to being a child again.”
Reach Elizabeth Baumeister at 570-704-3943 or on Twitter @AbingtonJournal.