EBENSBURG – Temperatures in Ebensburg hovered in the mid-30s Saturday as the community marked the second day of its Victorian-themed “Dickens of a Christmas” celebration with a parade, a craft fair and a pipe organ recital, among many other attractions.
For Danea Koss, Ebensburg’s community development director, the weather was cold, but for Richard Harber, who helped oversee a group of Indiana University of Pennsylvania students as they carved ice sculptures, it was just a little too warm.
“It’s chilly, but the rain’s holding off for us, so luckily we’re staying dry,” Koss said. “Hopefully, it’ll hold off for the rest of the day.”
Thomas Barnes, Martha Jo Rupert and Harber, faculty members at IUP’s Academy of Culinary Arts, watched as their students used chainsaws, die grinders, drills and chisels to carve Christmas-themed sculptures out of blocks of ice in a parking lot behind Penn Eben Park at the corner of Julian and High streets.
Even though the temperature Saturday morning was low enough that parade-goers could see their breath, it was also warm enough that some of the sculptures took on a rather drippy look, and many of the sculptors’ clothes were soaked through after a couple hours of work.
“It’s a little warm,” Harber said as a nearby thermometer read 37 degrees.
“We like it to be colder than this. If it was just a little bit colder, around freezing – 30 to 34 degrees – it would be perfect. ... It’s a little warm today. That’s why you’re seeing so many pieces melt.”
Harber said that IUP culinary arts students have been learning how to carve ice sculptures for close to 30 years. It’s a skill appreciated by many of the resorts, country clubs and other establishments at which they go on to work, he added.
“We start with a 300-pound block,” he said. “We draw a template of whatever it is we’re carving – snowmen, gingerbread men, wreaths, Christmas trees, train sets, whatever it is – then we start blocking it out. … You have to picture that item trapped inside it and start rounding it, curving it, making it look like it’s alive.”
Participating in Saturday morning’s parade along North Center, West High and Julian streets were marching bands from Central Cambria and Forest Hills high schools, drummers and bagpipers from Cambria Heights high school and members of Central Cambria’s state-championship cross country team, Koss said.
Local firefighters from several departments, members of the Ebensburg Women’s Club, representatives of PennCrest Bank and CamTran employees, among others, also marched.
“I think we had a great turnout,” Koss said, “considering the weather today. We had a lot of groups participate, a couple school bands, so it was really nice to see everyone come out and support our event.”
The streets of Ebensburg were fairly full of pedestrians Saturday morning, soon after the parade wrapped up. A number of vendors were present, and children lined up to sit on Santa’s lap in the gazebo at Penn Eben Park.
Said Koss: “It’s supported very well by our local community, and then we also get people from around the area. It’s nice for them to be able to come and see everything Ebensburg has to offer – our restaurants, our shops, our vendors, the different churches.”
Events scheduled for Sunday, the last day of the “Dickens of a Christmas” celebration, include a display of ice sculptures at Penn Eben Park; performances of Dickens Dessert Theater at 2 and 6 p.m. at Grace Church, 223 N. West St.; and a 4:30 p.m. performance of “A Madrigal Christmas Story” at Mount Aloysius College’s Bertschi Center.