A fireworks display can be seen near the corner of East Third and Water streets  at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

A fireworks display can be seen near the corner of East Third and Water streets at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

File photo by Donna Dalziel

Fire and Ice Festival returns after two-year hiatus

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published January 10, 2023


ROCHESTER — It’s been two years since downtown Rochester teamed up with Oakland County for the annual Fire and Ice Festival, and organizers say this year will be bigger and better than ever.

“It is exciting to be back after a two-year hiatus because of COVID,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said during a Jan. 9 press conference. “ … We’re not just coming back this year, we’re coming back strong.”

Although there wasn’t much snow on the ground — or in the forecast — at press time, Coulter said that whatever the weather, there will be plenty to do at the festival.

“Snow or rain or ice or sleet, we’ve pulled it off in any kind of temperature, because there is so much to do,” he said.

The 14th annual festival — which will run 5-9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, at East Third and Water streets in downtown Rochester — typically features tube sledding, ice skating, snowshoeing and cross country skiing, if temperatures remain above freezing. However,  at press time, Oakland County Parks and Recreation said it would be bringing its rock-climbing wall, cornhole, face painting, ax throwing, kids games, music and other, warmer-weather activities because the long-term forecast predicts temperatures will remain above freezing leading up to and through the festival.  Admission and all activities are free of charge.

“The best thing about Fire and Ice is that it gives us an opportunity — in the dreary month of January, when we are often in our houses a little too much —  … to get outdoors,” Coulter said. “It brings families together, it brings the county together and it attracts thousands of people from across the region.”

There will also be an ice carving competition on Main Street at 9 a.m. Saturday,  myths and legends themed ice sculptures on display  throughout the downtown, marshmallow roasting with the Rochester Lions Club, pet adoptions, the Frozen Paw 5K Race hosted by Leader Dogs for the Blind, music, shopping and more.

A fireworks display will delight crowds near the corner of East Third and Water streets at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and those who haven’t yet seen the Big, Bright Light Show will get a final chance to view the lights both nights.

Rochester Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Salvia said the city is excited to have Fire and Ice with Oakland County back in downtown Rochester.

“The weather has been a little gray in Rochester over the past few weeks, but when you see those bright lights, it sure cheers you up, so you want to come out to Fire and Ice,” Salvia said during the press conference.

Throughout the Fire and Ice Festival weekend, attendees can also grab a bite to eat or enjoy a beverage at a food truck rally on Water Street or in the Tastefest Tent.

The Rochester Fire Department will hold a spaghetti dinner fundraiser to benefit the Rochester Area Youth Assistance group 5-8 p.m. Jan. 20 and 5-8 p.m. Jan. 21 at the fire station, 277 E. Second St. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under, and it includes spaghetti, salad, bread, dessert and a beverage.

The Fire and Ice Festival is presented by Oakland County, the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department, the city of Rochester and the Rochester Downtown Development Authority. It is sponsored by Vibe Credit Union this year.

A free shuttle to the festival will be available at Buffalo Wild Wings, 1234 Walton Blvd. in Rochester Hills. For more information about the festival, visit Facebook.com/FireAndIceRochester or OakGov.com/FireAndIce.