A festival of ice

Shoppers taking a stroll down Main Street in Manayunk over the weekend took in a unique holiday-themed street performance.

With a chainsaw and an array of motorized chisels and grinders, Mt. Airy resident Peter Slavin forged a decorative throne for Santa Claus and a wreath from four 300-pound blocks of ice.

Slavin, one-third of the performance ice-sculpting company Fear No Ice, has been working with the medium for 25 years. He said he loves ice’s temporary nature.

“It’s like life. It’s ever changing,” said Slavin, who estimates he’s done enough ice sculptures to fill Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field five times over.

At the start of Saturday’s two hour demonstration, only a few gathered in front of the thistle-lined open-air tent inside Canal View Park. But as time passed and the 6’5″ throne began to take shape, a small crowd surrounded Slavin and blocked much of the sidewalk.

Even as streams of ice shavings flew from Slavin’s saw and coated members of the crowd, most seemed unable to tear themselves away.

Some spectators like Christopher McGill came specifically to see the spectacle unfold.

“It’s really neat and different,” said McGill, who drove up from Center City with his sons Malcolm and Nate.

But most like David and Mary Hastings, just stumbled upon the performance. The Berwyn couple was glad they did.

“There’s so much physics involved and to make it beautiful and magical is really amazing,” said David.

“It’s great to see such strong community spirit,” said Mary.

After Slavin etched some swirled details on the back of the throne, a red cushion was draped across the cold seat for Santa to hear Christmas wishes.

The event was meant to give attendees a taste of what’s in store at the first-ever “Manayunk on Ice” festival, a three-day event that Slavin and the Manayunk Development Corporation are co-sponsoring February 11,12 and 13.

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