PHOTO STORY: Ice sculptures draw visitors to downtown Niles

NILES — Dozens of families and visitors strolled through Niles Saturday morning to view ice sculptures that had taken over downtown.

The Hunter Ice Festival is an annual Niles tradition that typically draws thousands of visitors to the area to see carving shows, ice fights and a chili crawl. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival was scaled back, and many staple features were canceled.

Though the festival was missing its usual flair and special events, ice carvers from across the U.S. still came to Niles this week to share their talents with the community. On Saturday morning, carvers could be seen in action at the corner of Main and Front streets. Throughout the streets of downtown, visitors can view ice blocks carved into creative shapes, including an elephant, Baby Yoda from “The Mandalorian,” a seal and more.

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