Despite warmer-than-average temperatures and dense fog, people young and old flocked to downtown Rochester for the 10th annual Fire & Ice Festival.
The festival, which typically features cold-weather activities like skating, sledding and skiing, had to modify the activities due to the unseasonably warm weather experienced Jan. 20, 21 and 22.
“The festival committee is replacing some of its winter-driven events with a variety of outdoor family-friendly activities from Oakland County Parks and Recreation,” stated the Downtown Rochester website.
“I was pretty impressed with the way the organizers of Fire & Ice quickly found alternatives for activities that needed colder weather,” said Melissa McDonald, an Oakland University senior and finance major. “It was not the best year, but it was still fun.”
McDonald has gone to Fire & Ice for the past three years and always looks forward to the festival.
The trademark ice sculptures that lined Main Street, which thrived in previous colder festivals, partially melted due to the warmth. Some even completely slid off their tables and shattered.
“My favorite part was the ice carving competition, even though most of them started to melt,” McDonald said. “Unfortunately, when we went, most of the ice sculptures on Main Street were melting away.”
Despite the weather, Kristi Trevarrow, the executive director of Rochester Downtown Development Authority, estimated that approximately 50,000 people attended the festival.
Besides ice sculptures and the Big, Bright Light Show (the lights decorating the buildings), the Fire & Ice Festival hosted zip lines, a 25-foot rock-climbing tower, a beer tent, food trucks, carriage rides, a pet adoption tent, fireworks Friday and Saturday night and a 5K on Sunday, according to the website.
According to McDonald, the thick fog that permeated the Rochester area throughout the weekend partially obstructed the view of the fireworks.
Trevarrow said the fog was “definitely a challenge.”
But that didn’t stop the crowds. Fire & Ice usually draws a large crowd throughout the weekend. According to Crain’s Detroit Business, downtown businesses usually see a 25-to-30 percent jump in revenue during the festival weekend.
OU students and nearby residents could take a break from the dire parking situations they’re accustomed to and take a shuttle bus from the Rochester Hills Buffalo Wild Wings straight to downtown.
The Fire & Ice Festival has been a uniting event throughout the community for its 10 years.
“We hear so often that the festival is one of the favorite events of the year, with many special memories being made,” Trevarrow said.
For other events coming up in the Rochester area, visit downtownrochester.com or oakgov.com.