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Rotary’s Carved in Ice kicks off with ‘adults night’

Jeremy Vreeland, of DiMartino Ice, carves a snowflake during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle

Friday, Feb. 9 was an unseasonably warm day in Western Pennsylvania. Despite this, Butler’s Diamond Park came alive with more than a dozen ice sculptures — and more still to come — on the first day of the Butler AM Rotary Club’s eighth annual Butler Carved in Ice event.

Specialists from the DiMartino Ice Company used their chain saws to provide the artistic centerpieces for one of the Rotary’s key fundraising events of the year. Proceeds from the event go to the Butler AM Rotary Charities, and come mainly from local businesses paying to sponsor ice sculptures, as well as a 50/50 raffle and a basket raffle.

Among the ice artists present at Diamond Park on Friday night was Jared McAlister, a master ice sculptor for DiMartino who has been in the business for 24 years.

“It’s a family business, so when I was 14 years old, that’s when I learned to sculpt ice,” McAlister said. “So I got a chain saw for Christmas and started carving ice.”

McAlister said DiMartino makes ice sculptures 12 months a year, but only performs public carvings from November through February.

“You’ve got to be pretty strong to handle the equipment and keep up with lifting the tools … an 8-pound chain saw and 300-pound blocks of ice,” McAlister said. “And then you’ve got to have an attention to detail and a good work ethic to be able to stick with it.”

Due to the warmer-than-expected weather, as well as a threat of rain, the smaller ice sculptures were not put on display on the first day. Between nights, the larger sculptures finished on the first day were placed under a tarp to keep cool.

“Tomorrow we'll be putting out all of our one-block sculptures,” said event planner Kristen Kane. “It’s too warm tonight for them to stay cold for the festival tomorrow. And tomorrow, there's a chance of rain, which would melt all the sculptures.”

However, there was still plenty of ice carving to behold on the first day of the show, with DiMartino’s artists coming up with a snowflake, a duck, and a throne with angel wings.

“The snowflake so far looks so good,” said visitor Bryce Hamner. “And the duck. The duck was another one.”

According to Butler AM Rotary Club director Dena Martinez, the inspiration for the Carved in Ice event came from a similar event in Franklin, Venango County.

“One of our members, Dick Musko, attended the Franklin on Ice event,” Martinez said. “He thought it would be great to bring something like that to Butler for people that get cabin fever during the winter.”

Aside from the ice sculptures, the highlight of the night was provided by the Dragonfly Balloon Company and their troupe of fire dancers. To emphasize that this was “adult night,” the Saxonburg Area Rotary sold adult beverages from its barrel-shaped stand.

“We’re trying to capture the people that work in town,” said Martinez, who is also the business banking officer at NexTier Bank, which has an office directly adjacent to Diamond Park. “The people at the county building right over here, they can all come out and enjoy it right after work, so it has a more adult feel to it this evening.”

Day two of Carved in Ice is more focused on family activities, and features an ice slide, free tractor rides, a hot dog eating contest, a chili cook-off, and a visit from the famed Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

Workers from DiMartino Ice prepare for the Butler Carved in Ice festival in Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Workers from DiMartino Ice prepare for the Butler Carved in Ice festival in Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
The finished duck carving by Mitch Schrader of DiMartino Ice is displayed during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Ally Fulena twirls a hula hoop of fire during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
The finished duck carving by Mitch Schrader of DiMartino Ice during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Ally Fulena twirls a hula hoop of fire during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Jim Pritts and granddaughter Morgan Contreas sit on the finished throne with angel wings carving by Robert Higareda during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Jeremy Vreeland of the DiMartino Ice carves a snowflake during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Spectators observe the finished duck carving by Mitch Schrader of the DiMartino Ice during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Mitch Schrader of the DiMartino Ice carves a duck during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Joey Linn Tomko swallows fire during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Fire twirlers from Dragonfly Balloons and Lawrence County Flow Collective perform during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Mandy Williams of Dragonfly Balloons spins a hula hoop of fire during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Robert Higareda of the DiMartino Ice carves a throne with angel wings at the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Mitch Schrader of the DiMartino Ice carves a duck during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Mitch Schrader of the DiMartino Ice carves a duck during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Mandy Williams of Dragonfly Balloons does a split while twirling fire during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Fire twirlers from Dragonfly Balloons and Lawrence County Flow Collective perform during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Jeremy Vreeland, of DiMartino Ice, carves a snowflake during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Spectators gather as Mitch Schrader, of DiMartino Ice, carves a duck during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Robert Higareda, of DiMartino Ice, carves a throne with angel wings at the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Jeremy Vreeland, of DiMartino Ice, carves a snowflake during the Butler Carved in Ice festival at Diamond Park in downtown Butler on Friday, Feb. 9. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle

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