‘Fire and Ice’ turns downtown Marietta into hot place to be
MARIETTA — Downtown Marietta became a hub of activity Friday night as people came from all over the area to partake in the First Fridays theme of “Fire and Ice.”
As people walked down Front Street for the Marietta Main Street, they were greeted by 14 ice sculptures–and one in the works– in front of participating businesses, some of which offered hot chocolate and tea to chilly shoppers. The sculptures were created by Tyson Whistler, a local artist and chef who has been perfecting his craft for the last 14 years.
Whistler’s employer, Glenwood Retirement Community, was the main sponsor for the “Fire and Ice” event. Glenwood’s Director of Marketing, Laura Miller, said the retirement community’s population is made up of a lot of local residents who still want to give back to Marietta.
“About 50 percent of our residents are from Marietta,” she said. “And a lot of them were community leaders. So when we can support the community and Tyson, we are going to take advantage of that.”
People who came downtown on Friday were able to see the fruits of Whistler’s labor as they slowly melted in the 40-degree temperatures.
Yennie Myers, 42, of Parkersburg, said she brought her daughter Josephine because of the warmer temperatures and to see the unique art form sparkling in the evening light.
“The weather is great this year,” she said. “We saw (Whistler) carve before and he is fantastic.”
Sam Tuten, director of Marietta Main Street, said he was really happy with the throngs of people that showed up for the event.
“We have a great turnout tonight,” he said. “The temperature may not be good for the sculptures, but it is good for shopping.”
The works of art included pancakes and the logo for the Busy Bee diner, a swan outside Baker and Baker Jewelers and a sternwheeler near the armory. Whistler let event attendees witness the process of ice sculpting by creating an ice sculpture of the Loch Ness monster at Gateway Park throughout the evening.
Whistler’s wife, Katie, said her husband works hard preparing for the event every year.
“He’s been making ice for this event since October,” she said. “He’s been carving non-stop for the last two weeks for this event.”
As Whistler began the Loch Ness monster piece, his wife smiled from ear to ear observing him performing his labor of love.
“Having people watching what he does best is heartwarming,” she said. “I’m extremely proud of him.”
Two other people who appreciated Whistler’s efforts were Miranda Beha, 30, of Marietta, and her former Marietta College classmate Katy Beach, 30, of Columbus. The pair said they were very impressed with the artistry of the pieces and thoroughly enjoyed the entire event.
“The ice sculptures were really fun to see,” said Beach. “The entire event had that small-town feel, it’s very nice.”
“It’s nice that they have things to do for the kids,” said Beha.
Beha was referring to the fire pit set up on the armory lawn by Venture Crew 207. The organization is completely run by teens, and was raising funds for future activities by selling s’mores kits to event goers. Vice president of the chapter, Mya Everson, 15, of Marietta said the kits would help pay for zip lining, camping trips and kayaking trips that the group takes.
Another “Fire and Ice” treat offered Friday evening was from the Busy Bee diner, also on the armory lawn. Brave souls were able to try the restaurant’s spicy hot chocolate or the new habanero ice cream sandwich. Kay Moore, of Washington, W.Va., said the frozen treat was a keeper.
“It’s a perfect blend between the heat and the sweet,” she said.
Moore said this year’s warmer temperatures were exactly opposite of the sub freezing conditions of years past for the event, making each year a toss up of whether event goers will be dealing with more fire or ice.
By the Numbers
* Weight of each block of ice used for sculptures: 300 pounds
* Time taken to freeze blocks: Two and a half days
* Total number of sculptures on display: 15
* Average amount of time it takes Whistler to carve a sculpture: Four hours
Source: Tyson Whistler