‘Manayunk on Ice’ three-day festival heats up with ice bonfire

Freezing rain and snow didn’t stop the third annual “Manayunk on Ice” festival from heating up on Friday night. 

The three-day winter event kicked off with an ice bonfire in the Carson Street parking lot and will continue through the weekend with a series of extreme ice carving events for the whole family along Main Street. 

“The weather hasn’t seemed to be as bad as everyone’s expecting,” said Alicia Dietzmann, public relations and special events coordinator for the Manayunk Development Corporation, as freezing rain began to fall on Friday night.

On Thursday, the decision was made to not cancel the weekend of events, but rather to go through as scheduled because, as Dietzmann said, “There is so much that goes into planning the events — it really wouldn’t have worked any other day.”

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However, the bonfire on Friday evening was adjusted a bit due to the weather. The wet conditions proved to be too risky to feature ice carvers working on slippery ladders. Instead of replicating last year’s 20-foot high, chimney-like bonfire, the carvers decided to split up the amount of ice and spread out, while still managing to impress the crowd. 

Not letting the weather conditions get in their way, Peter Slavin and his professional ice carving team from Fear No Ice delivered a memorable performance for Manayunk residents and visitors watching from the parking lot and beyond.

Using blocks of ice, the group performed a theatrical and musical ice carving show with guitars and a baby grand piano made completely of ice. At the end, the piano was set ablaze, visible from Main Street and I-76. The iconic LOVE statue was also sculpted in a block of ice.

“Eight to 10 blocks, or 2,200 pounds of ice, were used at the Titanic carving out front of the Franklin Institute earlier today, which was a quarter of what we have here tonight,” said Dietzmann, as she described the amounts of ice present at the Carson Street parking lot.

Although Slavin’s company is local, Fear No Ice creates ice sculptures all over the world.

“He has his own huge warehouse where they specially make the ice, then store it at the perfect temperature, and cut it exactly for the event which they deliver to us,” said Dietzmann.

This was the first year food trucks were present at the event, in addition to the food tables staffed by local Manayunk favorites such as the Couch Tomato and Laxmi’s Indian Grille. Attendees stayed warm with the help of beverages such as hot cinnamon cider from the Farm Truck, and free beer samplings sponsored by Northeast Philadelphia native Muller, Inc. Beer Distributors.

On Saturday, from 12 to 4 p.m., 27 professional ice carvers will be creating works of art out of ice in front of various Main Street businesses.  Sunday’s events, also from 12 to 4 p.m., involve 30-minute ice sculpting battles.  For more information, go to the website

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