Yorkers participate in wintry fun for good causes

Sean Philip Cotter

Just a few minutes after hurtling down the ice slide into a mixture of snow and hay, Rylee Barhart was ready for round two.

“It was good!” proclaimed the York City 9-year-old, giving a thumbs up.

Her mom, Carrie Barnhart, laughed. She and her two kids — 6-year-old Zoie also was headed for the slide a second time — had just come from Central Market, where they’d had a “Frozen”-themed few minutes, hanging out with Elsa and making the snowman character from the Disney hit movie.

“We made Olafs of marshmallows,” she said.

The family joined the throng of people who’d come out Saturday for the second annual FestivICE event in York City.

Organizer Adam Nugent was pleased with the turnout. The first block of North Beaver Street was closed to traffic, and  full of locals taking advantage of the relatively mild winter day to hit up some of the food trucks, restaurants and booths that dotted the street. The event also featured attractions at Central Market and on Cherry Lane.

Robert Higareda of DiMartino Ice, uses an electric chainsaw to create ice sculpture on N. Beaver St. during FestivICE, Sunday January 16, 2016. (John A. Pavoncello - The York Dispatch)

The ice sculptures were particularly popular. The DiMartino Ice Co., a Pittsburgh-area company, fashioned 6,000 pounds of ice into objects including a giant snowflake, a godly face, a throne and, of course, the slide.

“The slide is a big addition this year,” Nugent said.

Last year, organizers charged to attend the event,  this year it’s free, he said — and that attracted more people.

The main goal of FestivICE, said Nugent, who plans special events like this one for the York Revolution, is to raise money and awareness for the Special Olympics ahead of the big “Polar Plunge” event in Wrightsville. That’s an annual event that raises money for the organization.

At about the same time as FestivICE kept downtown busy, another wintry event raising money for a cause was underway at Codorus State Park. The annual “winter carnival” aimed to raise money for the Friends of Codorus State Park.

Corey Roberts, 18 left, and Jay Kuhn, 17, of the Spring Grove High School swim run out of Lake Marburg after doing the Eagle Plunge during the Winter festival at Codorus State Park, Sunday January 16, 2016. (John A. Pavoncello - The York Dispatch)

The two entirely separate wintry events had some parallels. Each had a Bricker’s Famous French Fries food truck doling out salty snacks, people creating intricate ice sculptures and animal mascots. Someone dressed up as an eagle watched people take the “Eagle Plunge” into the water at Codorus State Park a few hours after a presumably different person dressed as a giant beaver played with kids in the first block of North Beaver Street in the city.

But this one also had attractions such as dog sleds and horse-drawn carriages. With the money raised by the event, the park hopes to do work on the amphitheater and the “mill house” cabin.

One of the main features was a leap into the water modeled after the Polar Plunge — this one called the Eagle Plunge. At 11 a.m. Saturday, about 55 people dashed into the icy water, said organizer Larry Albright.

Then, at 1 p.m., several more people took part in the “chicken plunge, in which people did the chicken dance and then ran into the frigid lake.

Jay Kuhn and Corey Roberts, both Spring Grove Area High School seniors on the swim team, stripped down to their brightly colored Speedos as a chilly wind came off the lake.

Kuhn said he’d done a plunge like this before.

“Should be interesting,” he said wryly.

A few minutes later, the DJ, who had been spinning oldies music, threw on the chicken dance song, and the 10 or so people crazy enough to throw themselves into the lake danced around  briefly. Then, they galloped into the water.

The two Spring Grove boys quickly hopped back out, gladly receiving a couple of towels.

“If I wasn’t awake before, I am now,” Kuhn said.

— Reach Sean Cotter atscotter@yorkdispatch.com.