FestivICE spreads beyond York City for first time

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

A record-breaking 40 ice sculptures will be arriving in York County for the sixth annual FestivICE — an event that organizers said wouldn't be slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In an effort to mitigate the spread of coronavirus while maintaining a winter tradition, FestivICE will be expanded throughout York City and on the county's rail trail paths for the first time ever. 

"Rather than just cancel this thing, which nobody wanted to do, we would find a new way to bring this event to people," said Doug Eppler, a spokesperson for FestivICE organizers the York Revolution. "You could argue we made it bigger and better because of the pandemic."

Typically hosted by York Traditions Bank and Eventive — the event planning and production division of the York Revolution — FestivICE expanded its roster in 2021 to recruit additional assistance from the York County Economic Alliance. 

In addition, the event will be hosted for a longer period of time, from Jan. 13 through Jan. 19 instead of the typical single weekend.

The carved ice blocks — provided by DiMartino Ice Co. based in Jeannette, Westmoreland County — will be on display in York City on Cherry Lane and along the Heritage Rail Trail in Seven Valleys, Glen Rock, Railroad and New Freedom. 

Eppler said the full route hasn't been finalized yet, and a map detailing each location for the ice sculptures will be available for viewing later this week at www.eventiveyork.com/. The event will be free. 

Though in previous years sculptors would come to carve the ice blocks live, Eppler said much of the sculpting will be done in advance instead to minimize large crowds forming to watch the ice sculptors work.

Some of the larger creations this year will feature a dragon, Tyrannosaurus rex and a baseball glove and ball. 

Max Termini, 4, holds his sister Maddy Termini, 2, both of West York Borough, as they glide down the 40-foot ice slide during the final day of FestivICE in York City, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

"While the rest of us make little ice cubes in our refrigerator, the experts who create these ice art pieces do so with a process that keeps the ice completely clear and almost glass-like," Eppler said. 

In addition to an expanded route for ice sculpture viewing, a virtual version of FestivICE will be available online. 

In an effort to reduce crowds, there will not be vendors or entertainment this year, Eppler said.

Eppler said this might only be the beginning for the future of FestivICE as York County residents know it. 

He added that the expansion of the ice sculptures onto the Heritage Rail Trail could open the door for further developments down the line.

"I don't know if we'll be able to put it into a smaller bottle once it's broken out and spread further," Eppler said. "The rail trail is a harbinger of things to come."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.