The wonderful world of ice

Disney partners with Utica DDA for 2013 ice festival

By: Brad D. Bates | Shelby - Utica News | Published January 16, 2013

 Stephanie Smolinski, 19, looks through one of the many ice sculptures that lined Auburn Road at last year’s festival.

Stephanie Smolinski, 19, looks through one of the many ice sculptures that lined Auburn Road at last year’s festival.

File photo by Donna Agusti

UTICA — At this year’s downtown ice festival, Utica is looking to be one of the happiest places on earth, if not an all-out magical kingdom Feb. 8-10.

Because of a partnership with the Walt Disney Co., members of the city’s Downtown Development Authority and Parks and Recreation Commission are hoping to make what was a rousing success in 2012 even better in 2013.

“We made Disney the theme, and I was soliciting Genisys (Credit Union), our gold sponsor, and told them it was going to be a Disney theme,” DDA member and Ice Festival Chairperson John Sattmann said of the partnership/theme. “(Genisys) asked, ‘Do we have (Disney’s) permission?’”

“We contacted Disney, and they said not only could we use it, but they wanted to work with us,” Sattmann said.

While Disney said it would not be able to provide stars, such as, Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck at the city’s river walk, it was willing to host some shows during the event.

“They’re going to be setting up on Saturday morning, come in and put on two shows in the Memorial Park area,” Sattmann said, noting that the exact content of the show would be a “surprise,” even to him.

“It’s not certain exactly where they’re going to be set up, but it’s going to be around City Hall. There will be two shows, each an hour long, and between the shows, they’ll have all sorts of kid activities. They come in and do the whole nine yards.”

Along with the shows, the blessing of Disney also allows downtown businesses to incorporate their logos and businesses with Disney characters in ice carvings that will line Auburn Road throughout the weekend.

Sattmann also hopes for an ice castle that resembles the Cinderella Castle from Walt Disney World in Orlando to complement the festival’s fireworks exhibition Feb. 8.

“Last year, it was the first time ever, and I think the word got out this year,” Sattmann said of the fireworks show, and the effect it had in downtown Utica’s shops and restaurants. “Friday night (business) will be up substantially.”

At 4 p.m. Feb. 8, Utica police will close down Auburn Road until 8 p.m., and a disc jockey will perform for festival-goers from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Mayor Jacqueline Noonan will address the crowd at 8 p.m. and honor students from Utica High School’s store, the Chieftain Connection.

Students from the store were honored in 2012 as one of the top school-based enterprises in the country, receiving gold certification from the Distributive Education Clubs of America and placing second in its national competition.

There will be carriage rides through downtown Utica from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 8, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 9 and noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 10. Sattmann said the charge for carriage rides would be $4 per adult and $1 per child.

On Saturday, the festival features an amateur ice-carving competition from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., as well as the presentation of local students’ sculptures at 11:30 a.m. The Disney shows will follow from noon to 4 p.m.

The festivities Feb. 10 will feature kids’ games and a magician from noon to 4 p.m.

Local officials are hoping for a repeat of the nearly trouble-free weekend that accompanied the 2012 festival.

“Last year, we had a good year; we had the fireworks, drew a lot of people downtown and it was a well-behaved crowd,” Utica Police chief David Faber said. “And we’re anticipating the same this year.”

To help make the 2013 festival even more successful than last year, the DDA is calling on local businesses and individuals to help as sponsors.

“I knew we were going to get more sponsorships, and that’s where I thought we could make it bigger and better,” Sattmann said. “Last year helped us get Genisys as our gold sponsor, but we’re still looking for money.”

Sattmann said Genisys Credit Union became the festival’s first gold sponsor, with a minimum donation of $7,500. There are also sponsorship opportunities available at $3,000,  $2,500 and $2,000 increments.

Anyone interested in sponsoring the festival is encouraged to contact Sattmann at (248) 891-0829. For more information on the ice festival and its schedule, visit