Fire and ice in one cool town
Lititz, one of 15 communities vying for a national title, is also the center for a winter festival next weekend. By Laura Knowles, Correspondent
What's sizzling hot and freezing cold at the same time? You're getting warm.
It's the Fire & Ice Festival in Lititz, marking its eighth year on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 15- 17. An outdoor street fair with ice sculptures and an indoor chili cook-off, the Fire & Ice Festival is both chilly and hot.
This family-oriented winter festival has become so popular it has outgrown its downtown Lititz location. So this year it will stretch from Main and Broad streets into Lititz Springs Park.
And it all comes as Lititz is one of 15 finalists competing for the title of Coolest Small Town in America. (Visit budgettravel.com.)
"When we came up with the idea of the Fire & Ice Festival ... the idea was to chase away the winter doldrums and bring people into Lititz," says Dawn Rissmiller, one of the organizers.
Lititz-area businesses sponsor the ice sculptures -- these art forms have doubled in number over the years from about 20 to more than 40 -- that often represent the goods or services they offer: a bouquet of flowers for a floral shop or a diamond ring for a jeweler.
Typically, about a half-dozen ice-carving demonstrations are highlighted during the Friday evening street fair.
"I would say that in the past eight years, the Fire & Ice Festival has tripled in size," Rissmiller says.
The Friday block party is held from 5-9 p.m. in downtown Lititz. More than three dozen participants will include Boys Scouts with marshmallow roasting, the Insanity Factor magic act, Pulse Dance Studio doing an on-the-street performance, and Michael Thomas the fire eater, demonstrating what the "fire" part of the festival is all about.
Food will include everything from cheesesteaks to whoopie pies, plus seafood sandwiches, cake pops, crepes, french fries, funnel cakes, fried chicken and chili.
The chili from Landis Homes will offer a preview of the Chili Cook-Off to be held 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in the cafeteria at Warwick High School. Professionals and amateurs alike will prepare a variety of chili recipes for taste-testing, raising money for charities in the process.
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, a Winter Wonderland Carnival is planned in the high school gym. There will be entertainment, inflatables and food for the kids. At 7 p.m., "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" will be held at Linden Hall.
Activities continue with a dodgeball tournament, for sixth-graders through adults, from 2-7 p.m. Sunday in the auditorium at Warwick High School.
The Fire & Ice Festival is sponsored by the Lititz Leo Club, a group of teens associated with the Lions Club.
As Lititz Leo President Jessie Esbenshade points out, there are many people involved in the planning of the festival, from organizing the ice sculptures to judging the chili cook-off.
As soon as one festival is over, members are already making arrangements for the next year.
"Many of the volunteers come together from our Lititz Leo Club and their families, our supporting Lititz Lions Club and people from the community that have supported the event all to make it a success for Lititz," says Rissmiller. "And the downtown businesses are very involved."
One of the only negative aspects to the festival was last year's vandalism of ice sculptures. So many people were upset by the destruction of the ice creations that a crew of security people has volunteered to watch the streets and guard the sculptures. The police will be on the lookout, and video cameras have been set up to keep an eye on downtown Lititz.
"Lititz is vying to be the coolest small town in America,'' says Rissmiller, "and the Fire & Ice Festival is one of the coolest events ever."n
"I would say that in the past eight years, the Fire & Ice Festival has tripled in size."