First Fridays: Fire and Ice

When people think of ice in January, they are usually reminded of treacherous driving conditions or the early morning scraping of their windshields. But for this month’s First Fridays event, ice will be celebrated as a unique artistic medium.

This Friday from 5 to 9 p.m., downtown merchants will be offering treats that will keep people warm as they shop and enable them to comfortably enjoy more than a dozen ice sculptures dotting the downtown streets.

January’s First Fridays event, titled “Fire and Ice,” is sponsored by Glenwood Retirement Community on Timberline Drive. Their head chef, Tyson Whistler, will be creating the arctic art that will sparkle in the downtown lights.

Whistler said he has been perfecting his ice sculpting abilities for 14 years, learning about tools of the trade as well as the artistic process.

“I’ve been into art since I was about 7,” he said. “Working with ice became a new medium that I could express myself with. At first I used chisels to do the sculptures…but I learned power tools allow me to get the detail I wanted.”

Whistler said there will be a total of 14 sculptures pre-made and put out in front of participating businesses based on designs submitted to Whistler. For people who are interested in watching how the ice sculpting process works, Whistler will be at Gateway Park at the corner of Front and Butler streets demonstrating his craft. Event-goers will have the chance to witness Whistler’s power tools humming and ice flying as he creates a new masterpiece.

“I’m planning on making a Loch Ness monster,” he said.

Whistler said he expected the creative process to take around four hours, giving ample time for people to watch.

Whistler said the most selfie-ready sculpture is sponsored by his employer, Glenwood Retirement Community.

“It is going to be an ice chair with their logo on top,” he said. “People can sit in the chair and get really cold while having their picture taken.”

The Galley, Teri Ann’s, Green Acres and Jeremiah’s Coffee House will be offering hot chocolate or tea for the rosy cheeked shoppers Friday evening. Busy Bee diner on Gillman Avenue will actually be setting up shop on the armory lawn.

Larry Sloter, owner of Busy Bee, said being involved with this month’s First Fridays event went hand in hand with his business.

“Ice sculptures are based in the food industry,” he said. “And it’s a fun way to kick off the year.”

Sloter said the Busy Bee will be offering hot chocolate and coffee, but his restaurant will be celebrating the event with a new treat that is sure to make people sit up and take notice.

“It’s a chocolate based cookie ice cream sandwich,” he said.

Sloter said what makes the frozen treat go with the “Fire and Ice” theme is the ice cream itself.

“It will have a habanero spicy ice cream inside,” he said.

Another option for hungry winter shoppers is the s’mores station, also on the armory lawn. Marietta Main Street Executive Director Sam Tuten said the station will fulfill two roles.

“There will be a fire pit on the armory lawn to warm people up,” he said. “People can buy s’mores kits to have while they are there…Who doesn’t like s’mores?”

With the high temperature forecast to be 49 degrees on Friday, staying warm may not be the main problem for shoppers, but it will cause Whistler’s works of art to be even more fleeting then they already are.