Hunter Ice Festival draws 7,500 to Niles

Published 3:37 pm Wednesday, January 18, 2006

By By RAUL GARCIA JR. / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The Hunter Ice Festival proved to be a community success because it was able to connect the community and revitalize downtown like no one has seen in a long time.
According to the Niles Main Street program manager, Lisa Croteau, about 7,500 people tracked through downtown to take part in the activities at the festival, shop at the local businesses and see first-hand 450 pounds of ice being carved.
Niles Main Street, a volunteer based organization, focuses on the revitalization of downtown and its initiative is to develop a management program that is well structured, well funded and committed to the future of Niles.
Veni Sweet Shop store manager, Mary Marazita said last year's festival was a total success for the community but this year's festival doubled their business and showed being with family is something special.
She said it was special to see the kids come in and share the fun with their parents and their grandparents.
Thayer's Jewelers store owner, Angelo Roncari finished his and Paul Piazza's ice sculpture of a clock at 5 p.m. on Saturday, but added the show really started on Sunday.
Twenty-four carvers took part in the sculpting and worked through the night.
Roncari said you can see your piece become reality faster than making jewelry.
The Hunter Ice Festival is a good community connection for people who had not seen each other in a long time, he added.
It's certainly an asset in having Niles Main Street here and the Hunter Ice Festival. It was just a totally positive experience,” Marazita said.“I don't think they missed a beat.”
Student Competition
6th- Seal - Danny Bloss, Niles
5th- Hearts and Fire - Megan Vantiger, Yarmouth, Iowa
4th- Shark - Nathan Venz, Beardstown, Iowa
3rd- Dragon - Mike Evans, Edwardsburg $50
2nd- Dancer/Ballerina - John Crumpacker, Indianapolis, Ind. $100
1st- Fish - Casey Hochstetler, Elkhart, Ind. $150
9th- Bi-Plane - Richard Biggs, South Bend, Ind.
8th- Cactus - Alan Perry, South Bend, Ind.
7th- Turtles - Greg Beachey, New Paris, Ind.
6th- Doves &Hearts - John Rooney, Valparaiso, Ind.
5th- Dove of Peace - Bud Lies, LaPorte, Ind.
4th- Dragon - Alfredo Arroyo, LaPorte, Ind.
3rd- Indian Warrior -Andrew Thistlethwaite, Elkhart, Ind. $100
2nd- Fish - Gary Christensen, Napoleon, Ohio $250
1st- Puppy Love -Stephan Koch, Yorktown, Ind. $400
5th- Batman - John Onofrio, Chicago Heights, Ill.
4th- Seahorse and Kelp - Rob Childers, Chicago, Ill.
3rd- Bicyclist - Dan Rebholz, Wooddale, Ill. $750
2nd- Crane - Chad Hartson, Napoleon OH $1000
1st- Blasing Skates - Max Zuleta, Zion, Ill. $1,500
Best single block non-competition piece
3rd- Pagoda - Mike Evans, Edwardsburg $100 (sw corner of Second and Main)
2nd- Angel - Leonard Bailey - Ottumwa IO $200 (west side of Front Street by corner parking lot)
1st- Ballerina - Max Zuleta - Zion, Ill. $300 (outside Niles Academy of Performing Arts-Second Street)