Ice sculptures, Santa coming to Ferndale

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published December 4, 2018

 Ted Wakar, with Ice Dreams, does a live ice carving in front of Danny’s Irish Pub in Ferndale during last year’s Holiday Ice Festival.

Ted Wakar, with Ice Dreams, does a live ice carving in front of Danny’s Irish Pub in Ferndale during last year’s Holiday Ice Festival.

File photo by Erin Sanchez


FERNDALE — Rolling into the early days of December, the holiday celebrations will continue in Ferndale with the 18th annual Holiday Ice Festival.

The festival will return to the city from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, near Planavon Street and West Nine Mile Road, which will turn downtown Ferndale into its own little North Pole.

The highlight of the Holiday Ice Festival, as always, will be the 50 ice sculptures that will adorn the streets, including live carvings by famed sculptor Tajana Raukar.

The ice sculpting is something that always has impressed Mayor Dave Coulter.

“As someone who doesn’t have a lot of artistic ability myself, I’m really impressed that an artist can take a chainsaw and create such beautiful works of art, which is what they are,” he said. “They really come out beautiful and beautifully detailed, and they really are worth a stroll around downtown to see as many as you can. They’re very impressive.”

Aside from the ice sculptures, Santa Claus will be making his return this year, and people can get free photos with the man in red. He’ll arrive at West Nine Mile and Planavon at 10 a.m. and take photos from 10 a.m. to noon and 2-4 p.m.

In between those hours, people can have lunch with Santa at Rosie O’Grady’s from noon to 1:30 p.m.

The city’s designated North Pole also will be the home for free hayrides, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Ferndale Downtown Development Authority Deputy Director Cindy Willcock said the DDA always is looking to enhance the event, which it tries to do by bringing in additional community partners and making sure the event stays fresh while keeping the same things people love about the festival.

“We’re furthering our partnership with the Ferndale Arts and Cultural Commission. They’re going to be sponsoring an arts and crafts table, so we’re looking forward to that,” she said. “We’ll have some fun selfie stations where — because people love to take selfies — so we’re giving opportunities to have a cool backdrop and some fun props. But we really want to encourage people interacting with each other, with the businesses this year.”            

Other partnerships include the Ferndale Rotary Club hosting its annual Holiday Ice Pancake Breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. The cost is $10 for adults, $5 for kids ages 4-10 and free for children 3 and younger. The Ferndale Arts and Cultural Commission will run the warming tent at the North Pole, supplying hot chocolate and cookies for guests waiting for their meet-and-greet with Santa. The tent also will have members of Michigan’s Fallen, who will assist those who wish to create a holiday card to send to a soldier.

“I think people really enjoy everything,” Willcock said. “It’s fun watching families interact with the ice sculptures. Of course, it’s always fun watching little kids sit on Santa’s lap. … Just a really good community event where people are just happy to be out and about and celebrating the holiday season with each other.”