Manayunk to get cool as ice this weekend

This February might be unseasonably warm, but that’s not stopping nearly 20 artists from getting ready to carve frozen sculptures along Main Street this weekend. 

The frosty spectacle of Manayunk on Ice commences on Friday night with a 25-foot bonfire ceremony at the parking lot at 4300 Canal Street from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. On Saturday, the sculptors will dig into 300-pound ice blocks with chainsaw and chisel to compete for the $2,000 grand prize along Main Street from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., followed by a Manayunk-themed ice carving performance from Peter Slavin around 5 p.m. And concluding Manayunk on Ice on Sunday afternoon will be a contest between the master sculptors from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Levering Street lot off of Main Street. 

“The surface of ice is very fast,” says Roger Wing, a West Philadelphia-based ice carver who will compete on Saturday and Sunday. “Ice captures gestures and poses very well, but facial features and texture don’t really stand out because it’s clear.” With Valentine’s Day approaching next week, passion is the theme that artists are encouraged to incorporate into their sculptures for this year’s competition. Ice has been a frozen passion for Wing since another artist invited him to enter an ice carving competition in Alaska in 1997. Wing’s artistic background had originally been wood and stone carving, but he quickly learned that ice’s slick surface allows artists to create elaborate sculptures in a few hours that would take days to pull off with wood and rock. The artists participating in Manayunk On Ice will have to work quickly – they have just four hours to create something out of an ice block. 

“I’ve gone over and planned every step of the process in my head already,” Wing says.

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The ice sculptures will be judged based on attention to detail, structural technique and creativity, among other criteria. Street parking will be available on Main Street, Cresson Street, and all the side streets past Cresson. Lot parking will also be offered at Main and Levering streets for $2.50 an hour and at Main and Cotton streets for $2 an hour all weekend. Additional lots are located on Green Lane between Main and Cresson Street, at the ends of Cotton and Lock Streets near the canal, on Shurs Lane, on Cresson between Roxborough and Cotton Streets and on Main Street near Shurs Lane.

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