By Julianne Mosher
The 5th annual Port Jefferson Ice Festival didn’t disappoint, yet again, with hundreds of people coming near and far to enjoy this winter wonderland.
Spearheaded by the Port Jefferson Business Improvement District and partnering with the, the festival gives visitors and residents a bunch of fun activities great for all ages.
The common denominator each year is the fantastic ice sculptures created by Rich Daly — owner and ice sculptor with Ice Memories, based in Mastic Beach. Daly said he spends three weeks preparing for the two-day-long festival, creating 30 ice statues to distribute around Port Jefferson. From dogs outside Skinmed Spa to a cheeseburger outside Tommy’s, there is quite the variety. For this festival alone, Daly said he carved 225 blocks of ice (that’s 70,000 pounds) slated for the weekend.
The festival began Saturday, Jan. 27, and was supposed to go into the Sunday. However, a rainy forecast postponed the second day until this coming Sunday, Feb. 4. While disappointing for some, people who missed the first day can now have another chance to enjoy the festivities. Some of those festivities include admiring Daly’s sculptures around town, character appearances — Spider-Man and Barbie were spotted — and horse and buggy rides.
But the biggest crowd draw is the three live ice sculpture experiences by Daly occurring throughout the day.
Daly became the world’s fastest ice carver, according to Guinness World Records, back in 2013.
“I carved 18,000 pounds of ice into 61 different carvings in two hours and 52 minutes surpassing the old record by over an hour and a half,” he said. “So now we’re 11 years in, and it’s still my record, thankfully.”
Last Saturday, Daly stood with a 300-pound block of ice in the Meadow Parking Lot behind PJ Lobster House with nearly 100 people and children cheering him on. He took his ice pick, carved out a rough design of a dove and then started up his chainsaw to carve out the bird. In under 30 minutes, the bird was ready and admirers could be photographed with the new creation.
This year’s Port Jefferson Ice Festival will have its grand finale on Sunday, Feb. 4, featuring all-new ice designs throughout the village along with Daly’s live carvings. Parking is free.