Thousands braved the sidewalk slush and rain showers in downtown Carlisle this weekend for the second CenturyLink Ice Art Fest.
The festival, produced by the Downtown Carlisle Association, continued on Saturday with a full roster of events after opening to large crowds on Friday. Festival committee member Leesa Braun said at 2 p.m. Saturday that she expected a total of around 3,000 visitors before the festival wrapped up for the day at 9 p.m.
Friday night’s crowd totaled around 2,000 visitors just between 4 and 10 p.m.
“We’ve had an excellent turnout. People have been asking for the carriage rides, (PNC Bank) Chili Cookout, Snow Sisters and the Penquin Toss,” said Rotary Club of Carlisle volunteer Kevin Cogan, who manned the event’s ticket booth.
On South Pitt Street, Traci Morrison said she sold tickets at a steady pace on Saturday for Benchfield Farms’ horse-drawn wagon and carriage rides through downtown Carlisle.
“It’s been very busy,” noted Morrison, a friend of the business’ owners Meg & Scott Enslin. “We’ve been running two wagons and a carriage since 11 a.m. We haven’t had an empty wagon all day. Every seven or eight minutes, a wagon departs, and every 15 minutes, there’s a carriage.”
The Enslins added another wagon to this year’s lineup because rides were booked “four to five hours out” last year with just one wagon on duty, Morrison added.
A Benchfield Farms carriage transported the Singing Snow Sisters for a noontime performance at the Square. The costumed snow fairies not affiliated with Disney’s “Frozen” enterprise are actually part of the character lineup of My Fantasy Party, a Mount Holly Springs firm owned by Jordan Gattermann that specializes in birthday parties.
After the concert, the Snow Sisters returned to The Vault for more songs and a meet-and-greet with 250 young fans and parents.
“We had to use tickets this year,” Gattermann said. “Last year, we had a line that wrapped around the block, and not everybody was able to get in.”
Tickets also were required for the Penguin Toss game in the rear lot of the Create-A-Palooza, which moved to the downtown at 11 E. High St., in March 2017. At least 20 families were in line for the game around 1 p.m. Money raised from game tickets would be donated to Downtown Carlisle Association to help cover festival costs, said Create-A-Palooza co-owner Karen Griffith.
Create-A-Palooza co-owner Jim Griffith said the couple decided a year ago to participate in this year’s Ice Art Fest. “We saw a stream of people going by during last year’s festival when we were doing remodeling here before we opened,” he recalled.
Create-A-Palooza was one of 74 local businesses and organizations that sponsored ice sculptures crafted for the event by Ice Concepts of Hatfield, Pennsylvania. Centerpieces included the Ice Throne sponsored by CenturyLink at the Square and a working Ice Bar sponsored by Comfort Suites. The patio at The 1794 Whiskey Rebellion at Comfort Suites bustled with customers on Saturday afternoon, with many posing for photos at the Ice Bar.
Bartender Erika Novak was busy preparing coffee, hot chocolate, and mixed drinks for the crowd.
“I don’t know how many people have been through here,” she said with a smile. “It’s been consistent. The rain has held off for now, and the people have been troopers here.”
On West Pomfret Street, glass artist Michael Peluso offered glass blowing workshops and demonstrations sponsored by the Pomfret Group. Peluso, of Elizabethtown, has designed glass for 18 years and taught classes for 15 years, he said during a demonstration with molten glass that remained at 1,500 degrees even after a minute or two of cooling. After several more minutes of heating, blowing and shaping, Peluso transformed the molten blob into a colorful glass jar.