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February 5, 2013

Bigger and better than ever

The Art and Ice Festival returns to Eastpointe after one-year hiatus

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Clifton Williams, then age 9, participated in Play It Again Sports’ puck shoot at the festival in 2011.

EASTPOINTE — After a one-year break, the Art and Ice Festival is back in Eastpointe at East Brooke Commons from Feb. 15-17, and it promises to be bigger and better than ever.

Art and Ice has expanded to three days this year, after warm weather last year canceled it, and festival planners say this year, no matter what the weather is like, the festival will happen. It’s a good thing, too, because there are more festivities than ever planned for the three-day winter celebration.

Beginning with a wine and cheese preview party from 6-8 p.m. Feb. 15 and ending at 6 p.m. Feb. 17, the festival is jam-packed with exciting happenings, inspiring art and fun for the whole family.

“Salvatore Scallopini is hosting the preview event Friday night in a tent adjacent to the restaurant,” said the event’s chair, Diane Reece. “There will be wine, cheese and music at this Valentine’s-themed night and Creative Ice by Roy will be bringing a Valentine’s heart and carving a bald eagle out of ice throughout the evening.”

The ice-sculpted heart will double as a wine luge for the adults-only party, which will also include live music by Chrystal Smith and Peter Martinez.

“This is the first year we are having festivities for the event on Friday; usually, it’s only two days on Saturday and Sunday,” Reece said.

Tickets to the Valentine’s Afterglow preview party are $25 in advance and can be purchased through the Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber of Commerce or for $30 at the door.

Perhaps the most looked-forward-to event of the festival happens early Saturday morning, before the official 11 a.m. start, when, at 7 a.m., local public figures will square off in a series of three hockey-puck-shooting competitions.

The first will feature Eastpointe City Manager Steve Duchane shooting against Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. Following them, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham will square off against Eastpointe Police Chief Scott Bourgeois around 7:30 a.m. And around 8 a.m., that old east side rivalry will be momentarily revived when Eastpointe Mayor Suzanne Pixley shoots against Roseville Mayor John Chirkun.

The community is invited to come out early for the shootouts, during which Roy from Creative Ice by Roy will be sculpting live. The rest of the festivities begin at 11 a.m. and include more live ice sculpting, displays of artwork by East Detroit High School students, live music by the East Detroit High School band and choir and the Eddie King Band, open hockey shooting, balloon twisting, marshmallows roasting over bonfires and more.

Sunday’s lineup will feature much of the same with performances by Gratiot Idol Contest winner Gunner and Alan Cayan, as well as face painting for kids.

“It gives people an opportunity to come out, visit with one another and enjoy the artwork, which is phenomenal,” said Eastpointe’s public information assistant, Bill Driskel.

For the first time this year, the student art will be judged and first-, second- and third-place winners will receive monetary awards.

“Mike Curis, who owns East Brooke Commons, is a big supporter of the festival — we couldn’t do it without him,” Driskel said. “He provides the setting, underwrites a lot of the costs and, this year, he is providing the monetary awards for the winners. We are very fortunate to have him in our city.”

At 2011’s Art and Ice Festival, Curis told the Eastsider that he does it all because it feels good and he said, “It’s not just about doing well in business — it’s about doing good by the communities that you are doing business in.”

The judging is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday.

This year’s Art and Ice will also focus on giving back, with two featured charities. On Saturday, Hand Bags of Hope is collecting donations of toiletries, purses, brushes, combs, tissues and notepads. On Sunday, Love Life Family Christian Center is collecting gently used and new donations of socks, hats, gloves and scarves for the Macomb County Warming Center.

Art and Ice is presented by the Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber of Commerce, The Eastpointe Downtown Development Authority, East Brooke Commons and the City of Eastpointe.

“It’s a great economic activity because it not only draws people to the center of Eastpointe, but it stimulates the community to the crafts, arts and skills that are on display,” said City Manager Steve Duchane. “Nobody can force businesses into your city, but events like this create an interest that draws them in, and creates a sense of place for people living in the community.”

For more information on Art and Ice, call (586) 776-5520.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.