First Night fever: Festival, activities cure the common New Year's Eve

cminemye@centredaily.comDecember 30, 2013 

  • COOL FACTS

    Some information about First Night State College ice sculptures:

    Company: DiMartino Ice of Jeannette (www.dimartinoice.com)

    Tools used: Power saws, hand saws, levels, sanders, grinders, drills.

    Ice team: 6 professional cutters, 6 apprentices.

    Ice blocks: Uncut blocks weigh about 300 pounds each; about 200 uncut and pre-cut blocks are used in State College.

    Ice slide: Located in Sidney Friedman Park, made with 40 blocks of ice.

    Ice sculptures: First Night will feature eight larger pieces involving about 10 blocks of ice each, and as many as 80 single-block sculptures.

    Learn more about the event: www.firstnightstatecollege.com

    - Source: DiMartino Ice; First Night State College

    FIRST NIGHT SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

    •  All day: Carriage Rides, Mayor Welch Plaza

    •  10 a.m.-9 p.m.: Ice sculptors in action, South Allen Street

    •  Noon-midnight: Resolution and giant ice sculpture exhibits, Sidney Friedman Park and State College Municipal Building

    •  Noon and 7 p.m.: Magician Dennie Huber, Downsborough Community Room, Schlow Centre Region Library

    •  1 p.m: Heritage Brass, Faith United Church of Christ

    •  1, 3 and 5 p.m.: The Puppet Factory’s “The Flying Tortoise,” Days Inn Penn State

    •  2 and 4 p.m.: Middle-Earth Studios’ “The Pirates of Buccaneer Isle,” Westminster Hall, State College Presbyterian Church

    •  2 p.m.: Nittany Knights Barbershop Chorus, State College Presbyterian Church

    •  3 p.m.: Revamped, University Baptist and Brethren Church

    •  3 p.m.: Below Centre, Faith United Church of Christ

    •  3:30 p.m.: Toot-in-Common, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

    •  3:30, 7:30 and 10:15 p.m.: Vaudeville comedian Jonathan Burns, State Theatre

    •  4 p.m.: Callanish, State College Presbyterian Church

    •  4 and 7:30 p.m.: State College Area High School Thespians, Fairmount School auditorium

    •  4:30 p.m.: The Tarnished 6, Grace Lutheran Church

    •  4:30, 7 and 9 p.m.: Variety performer Hilby, Penn State Downtown Theatre Center

    •  4:30 p.m.: Nittany Highland Pipe Band, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church

    •  5, 6:45 and 9:30 p.m.: Magician Joe Holiday, State College Municipal Building

    •  5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 p.m.: Ice skating, Pegula Ice Arena, University Park

    •  5 p.m.: Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Michigan State, Big Ten opener, Bryce Jordan Center, University Park

    •  5 p.m.: Pepper Lotus Tribal Belly Dance Troupe, University Baptist and Brethren Church

    •  5:30 p.m.: Tussey Mountain Moonshiners, Faith United Church of Christ

    •  6 p.m.: Live Mannequins, Appalachian Outdoors

    •  6 p.m.: Ted McCloskey and Friends, State College Presbyterian Church

    •  6 p.m.: Giant puppet display, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

    •  6:30 p.m.: Grand procession, leaves St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

    •  6:30 p.m.: Academy of Sacred Music, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

    •  6:30 p.m.: State College Area High School Jazz Band, Grace Lutheran Church

    •  7 p.m.: Organ grinder Ron Ray, State College Municipal Building plaza

    •  7:30 p.m.: Voxology, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church

    •  8 p.m.: Hot Soup vocal trio, State College Presbyterian Church

    •  8 p.m.: Biscuit Jam, Faith United Church of Christ

    •  8 p.m.: Archie Blue, University Baptist and Brethren Church

    •  8:30 p.m.: Air Dynamics, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

    •  8:30 p.m.: Mark DeRose & the Dreadnought Brigade, Grace Lutheran Church

    •  9:30 p.m.: Arietta Women’s Ensemble, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church

    •  10 p.m.: Phil Spangler and Joel Blunk, State College Presbyterian Church

    •  10 p.m.: Summit Hill Bluegrass, Faith United Church of Christ

    •  10:15 p.m.: Kim Cook and Anne Sullivan, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

    •  10:15 p.m.: Deirdre Flint, Grace Lutheran Church

    •  10:15 p.m.: Rick Hirsch 4 + 1, University Baptist and Brethren Church

— Marshall Laskowski stared at the stack of ice blocks and said he hoped it would become a Santa hat.

His mother, Kristen, predicted a Pittsburgh Pirates theme touting her 3-year-old son’s favorite player, Andrew McCutchen.

Then veteran ice-cutter Dick Alford gave them the scoop: That ice would be transformed into the shape of a bird.

Kristen Laskowski paused along South Allen Street on Monday afternoon as workers with Jeannette-based DiMartino Ice were setting ice blocks for sculptures that will take form there Tuesday.

The ice sculptures are a popular feature of First Night State College, which runs through the evening across the downtown. The event to welcome the new year also includes food, carriage rides and live entertainment.

“We enjoy coming down every year,” Kristen Laskowski said. “It’s cool to see.”

First Night State College is produced by the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. Rick Bryant directs both the summer and winter events.

“Lots of people come downtown to stroll through the ice sculptures, then go get something to eat,” Bryant said.

He said visitors Tuesday will encounter jugglers and a variety of musical styles at several downtown churches and other venues.

Bryant’s organization relies on about 60 volunteers to make First Night happen.

“We have a good team,” he said.

So does DiMartino Ice, which started out with four ice-cutters 20 years ago. This week, the company has six professionals and six apprentices on the job in State College.

After warm, rainy weather Sunday, the ice crew was busy early on Monday, building the ice slide at Sidney Friedman Park at 7 a.m.

“We’re a day behind,” company President Ernie DiMartino said while directing setup work. “We spent all day Sunday in a hotel watching football when we should have been making the ice slide. But we’re catching up. Everybody’s working 120 percent.”

The DiMartino crew brought 120 blocks of uncut ice to State College, with each block weighing nearly 300 pounds. In addition, 78 blocks had been pre-carved.

Large ice settings were put together Monday in preparation for cutting, some blocks lifted into place with a forklift.

Ice sculpting will begin at about 9 a.m. Tuesday, DiMartino said. Those who want to see the shapes emerge can find them along the 100 block of South Allen.

In addition to the ice slide, a functioning piggy bank was finished in Friedman Park on Monday. Visitors can make donations to First Night by dropping money into the piggy bank of ice on the hill above Memorial Field.

Temperatures dropped Monday, and Alford said conditions were “almost perfect” for ice-cutting.

“I love doing it. It’s enjoyable,” said Alford, who traveled to State College from his home in Akron, Ohio. “But it’s the people that really matter, and being able to create something.

“Ice is such an immediate art form. If you tried doing this in stone it would take you months.”

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