Thursday, January 26, 2023

41st Annual Ice Festival set to begin next week

The “coolest” festival in Plymouth will begin with a very special event this year.

Just ahead of the official opening of the 41st Annual Plymouth Ice Festival, Miracle League of Plymouth will host a Preview Party in Kellogg Park for special needs families. The sensory-friendly event will take place from 6:30 until 8 p.m. Feb. 2, the evening before the official opening of the event set for Feb. 3.

Michigan Magician Jeff Wawrzaszek will be performing magic tricks as he walks between the ice sculptures open for viewing and One Spot Theater will perform. Also planned are winter-themed arts and crafts along with games offering prizes for participants. Ice blocks will be available to touch and other ice-related fun is planned, organizers said, along with warm refreshments.

James Gietzen
The event is free and is sponsored by Thrivent, although tickets will be required and are available for individuals with disabilities or limitations and their families of all ages. One ticket is needed for each person attending, organizers said. For ticket registration or more information, email 

James Gietzen, owner of JAG Entertainment, who produces the event said this was a real addition to the event and he was very pleased to help offer the sensory conscious event. “It just allows more people to enjoy the ice,” he said. 

“The festival is designed to bring people out of their homes during the winter months,” Gietzen said, “and this preview event provides that opportunity to those who might otherwise miss the ice carving.  This is a family-friendly, community-oriented event that brings people out into the fresh air and provides something fun to enjoy during the winter months. As many people as possible should be able to enjoy it,” he added.

When the event opens on Friday, there will be smaller sculptures, but more of them throughout downtown and in front of nearly every business, Geitzen said. Gietzen said distributing the sculptures throughout the downtown offers audiences a chance to see the art of the sculptors without the crush of crowds. He noted that people can enjoy the ice works at their own pace which can be a real advantage to families with younger children.

The weather, of course, is always the largest element of the event. If it is too cold, families hesitate to come out. If it is too warm or rains, the sculptures melt. Gietzen said, however, that when it got unseasonably warm one year, crowds didn't seem to diminish much. He said that families come for the atmosphere and to have something to do outside.

This year, the traditional attractions will fill the streets, including the exceptionally popular petting farm which draws huge crowds, Gietzen said. One added feature is the addition of warming stations.

“The Hot Spot near the Gathering sponsored by Ehlers will be open during the event,” Gietzen said, “and there will be food vendors, drinks, face painting and bathrooms available there.” This year, two more warming stations have been added. One at the Plymouth Arts and Recreation Complex (PARC) on Main Street across from the library. Gietzen said that a hallway in the former school building will feature an art exhibit people can enjoy while getting out of the cold. “United Way will also be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday with hot beverages and snacks,” Gietzen said. United Way is located at 960 Ann Arbor Trail.

A new attraction this year is the expected food truck, Nom Nom Ninja, which has a large following and is considered one of the best food trucks in Metro Detroit, Gietzen said.

Of course, the Rotary Bingo game will return and the Party Tent which attracts a huge crowd will again be open in the parking lot behind E.G. Nick's on Forest Street.

“This is just a real community event, designed for families, but with attractions for everyone,” Gietzen said. “Our only concern, as always, is the weather.”