Keep your fun on ice, it’ll last longer.
For a little more than two decades Ernie DiMartino has served as the captain of the First Night State College Ice Sculptors, the merry band of craftsmen who create the frozen wonders that will fill downtown State College and Sidney Friedman Park on Dec. 31.
In addition to the variety of pre-carved sculptures that will be on display, visitors can watch DiMartino and his cohorts produce nearly a dozen giant works of ice on the spot.
DiMartino, who is also the president of DiMartino Ice in Jeannette, provided some hints on what to expect this New Years Eve.
Q: How many sculptors are involved in First Night? How many sculptures do you produce each year?
A: Our carving team consists of 11 members this year. This year we produced 92 one-block sculptures in advance at DiMartino Ice and are producing 11 giant ice sculptures live.
Q: Approximately how much time is spent per sculpture?
A: That depends on the amount of carvers, size and design of the sculpture. On average, I would say that one man-hour for every block of ice.
Q: What kind of pre-planning is involved in a large-scale undertaking like this?
A: As far as the giant sculptures are concerned, the first part of the plan is coming up with an acceptable idea. After that, we create a small drawing of the idea. Then we must determine the size and create a block layout to determine the number of blocks to be used. We also create a to-scale paper template to paste to the ice to ensure a quality likeness of the design. The last part of the plan is scheduling the delivery of the blocks of ice, helpers, scaffolding and forklift, which is done by the festival.
Q: Do you have a favorite design from over the years? Why?
A: It is hard for me to pick one in particular design. The one design that comes to mind is the “flight of ducks” that we carved across from The Corner Room on South Allen Street. If my memory serves me correctly, it was 60 feet long and 14 feet tall.
Q: What’s the trickiest part of carving ice?
A:With the giants, it is making a determination on where to place the vertical seams when fusing the ice together and then executing that fusion. The last thing that you want to happen is for the sculpture fall apart before its time. From an event standpoint, the one thing that you can expect is the unexpected.
Q: What do you think will be the most challenging First Night sculpture to carve this year?
A: Baryonyx dinosaur.
Q: Is there one design that you’re particularly looking forward to having people see?
A: To see the look on children’s faces when they are riding the ice slide!
Q: What’s the most important piece of advice that you could give to somebody looking to carve their own ice sculpture?
A: Always use two hands on whichever tool they are using because we don’t want any of their blood on the ice and a trip to the emergency room to sew them up. Then, I show them the scar that runs up Robert Higareda’s inside forearm.
Q: Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
A: I have never resolved to make any lifestyle changes during New Year’s, but if I were to do one this year it would be to spend more time with my grandchildren.
IF YOU GO
What: First Night State College
Where: downtown State College