Businesses warm to ice festPublished 4:21pm Monday, January 21, 2013
Despite a strange weather pattern with temperatures ranging from the upper 40s Saturday to the low teens Sunday, the Hunter Ice Festival was a boon for businesses in downtown Niles.
Sarah Brittin, owner of Pizza Transit, said Saturday was the busiest day in the 26 years of her business.
“It was better than we could’ve hope for,” said Brittin, who attributed the big day to the warm temperatures Saturday. “I think the weather helped, even though it’s sad to see it melt the (ice) sculptures.”
Also helping business, Brittin said, was Pizza Transit offering face painting during the day and a live band Saturday night.
“We might do some more live bands in the future,” she said.
Across the street, Bella’s Gifts and Memories also made good.
Owner Tina Newman said Sunday business was twice as profitable as it was during last year’s Hunter Ice Festival.
Newman said her business was helped by the city’s decision to do the big-block ice carvings on Sunday when temperatures dipped back down into the low teens.
“I think people were a little disappointed when they heard the big carvings weren’t happening (Saturday), but, once they found out there would be carvings Sunday, they came back,” she said.
Lisa Croteau, of Niles Main Street DDA, estimated attendance at between 10,000 and 15,000 people.
She said 114 gallons of Hunter Ice Cream were sold during the weekend, causing Main Street to cancel Monday’s tradition of selling the leftover ice cream.
“We only had one 3-gallon bucket left,” she said.
As for the annual chili cook-off, Jim Boger, of Niles, took first place. Massimo’s Pizzeria finished second and El Amigo Pepe finished third while winning the people’s choice award.
Ice carver Buddy Rasmussen won the people’s choice award for his carving of a dragon.
No ice hotel please
Hunter Ice Festival raffle ticket winner Charlie Niblic, of South Bend, Ind., won’t be using his ticket to visit the famous Ice Hotel in Montreal.
He said he rather go somewhere warm with the $1,607 travel voucher.
“I think we’ll choose someplace else,” Niblic said. “My wife said, as cold as I get, we probably wouldn’t like an ice hotel.”
The Niles-Buchanan Rotary Club sold the raffle tickets at $25 a piece in an effort to raise money for next year’s ice festival. Only 224 of the 1,000 tickets were sold.
Grand prize was a trip to the Ice Hotel in Motreal or a travel voucher through Signal Travel and Tours good for $1,607.