A look back at the sixth annual Ice Carnival in the Loop demonstrates the vibrancy of the community even in the midst of winter. The growing event attracts more takers each year. The following are just a few events from a very busy Saturday in University City.
5-k and 10-k Frozen Buns Runs
Organized by the St. Louis Triathlon Club, the Frozen Buns Run pitted runners against the streets of University City in the cold. Participants were able to register for $30 on the morning of the event right up to the launch at 10am.
"It's a nice, fun race that forces you to go out in the cold to do it, and then you get to see all the ice sculptures," volunteer John Moran said. "It's gone from very few people the first year to a couple hundred."
Tracy Pasieka, one of the race's directors, is pleased with the Frozen Buns Run's growth over the years.
"We get a lot of people who are doing their first 5-k or 10-k race," Pasieka said. "I love that we get all types of people. Every year, it gets a little bit faster, which I think is an inspiration for kids."
Five years ago, Blueberry Hill owner and unofficial "Loop Godfather" Joe Edwards contacted the Triathlon Club about holding a run as part of the Ice Carnival, Pasieka said.
“Winter can be isolating, and this is an invitation for people to come out, embrace winter and see each other again,” Edwards said. “Last year the Ice Carnival grew a lot, and this year, it’s even bigger.”
Coworkers, friends, husband-wife combinations and even parents with strollers participated in the race.
University City resident Mark Johnson participated for the third time this year.
"I like running in U City. It's a nice route," Johnson said. "I don't like it real, real cold, but this is just about right, actually."
"I'm doing the 5-k with a couple of buddies from work," said Darren Johnson, an employee of Huttig Building Products in Town and Country. "They wanted to do a run early in the year, so we researched the St. Louis track site and found this."
"At my point in life, it helps me stay fit," Johnson's coworker Darren Erutti said. "This is my first 5-k run ever."
Erutti hoped completing the run would be the beginning of a new period in his life, health-wise.
"It's not a resolution; it's a lifestyle change," he said. "If you call it a 'resolution,' that will jinx it."
Chris Koncki from Ballwin and Gayle Hantak from St. Louis City relished the challenge of braving the cold. The pair of in-laws agreed the chill was motivating.
"Instead of being on the couch, we're out here getting exercise," Koncki said.
Registration fees benefited the Triathlon Club, as well as the Backstoppers, a nonprofit group that provides emergency assistance for the families of recently deceased firefighters, police officers and paramedics.
It's not often that dreary weather can be an asset to a community event, but that was exactly the case for the Ice Carnival.
"With this weather, we lucked out," said David Van Camp, the owner of Ice Visions. "You start getting direct sunlight, and it kills the ice sculptures."
The Kirkwood-based creative ice carving company chiseled 55 sculptures representing Delmar Loop businesses, Van Camp said. The freezing temperature created conditions perfect for maintaining ice.
"They fill up a truck with the finished ice sculptures and drop them off at businesses," HSB Tobacconist manager Leah Agustin said. "They did an awesome job."
HSB's sculpture was a giant hookah pipe, complete with hoses and a color-changing light inside.
Agustin enjoyed people-watching from the inside of the smoke shop.
"I think it's a good thing to get all the people of St. Louis together to have fun," she said.
Other neat ice sculptures included the Grateful Dead bear in front of Sunshine Daydream, a Green Lantern-themed sculpture in front of Star Clipper Comics, a massive root beer bottle in front of Fitz's and an old-fashioned movie camera at the Tivoli.
Ice Visions also carved out the Ice Slides next to Blueberry Hill and constructed the golfing stations for the Putt Putt Pub Crawl.
Unique Events at Businesses
Several participating businesses in the Loop had their own unique activities and games in-store and on the sidewalk.
A handful of stores handed out temporary tattoos, including Star Clipper.
"Superman's supposed to be here, but we're thinking he got held up fighting Lex Luthor in Metropolis, IL," Star Clipper General Manager Jon Scorfina said. "It's always a big event for us. The ice sculptures are always the most fun. Each business gets to show what makes them unique."
In Phoenix Rising, visitors received free atomic fireball candy and submitted their guesses at how many unwrapped pieces filled a jar on the store counter.
"Seeing people out in this weather is wonderful," Phoenix Rising manager Nora Vandivort said. "It's a nice levity in the middle of dark cold."
Joe Edwards said the day was a success for Delmar Loop businesses.
“The Ice Carnival gives shops and restaurants a chance to show off their wares,” Edwards said.
Edwards estimated that between 6,000 and 7,000 people would participate in Saturday’s events.
Ice Cube Prizes
One of the day’s big hits was an ice cube giveaway sponsored by Hermann London, a real estate agency from Maplewood. 10,000 cubes were distributed to businesses across Delmar, one-tenth of which contained $1 coins. The other 9,000 had chocolate coins.
Up and down the street, children and adults alike hurled and smashed ice cubes to the ground in order to retrieve the prizes inside.
“Temporary tattoos are fun, but the ice cubes are definitely the highlight of the day for us,” St. Louis City resident Julie Schoemehl said.
As a mother, Schoemehl appreciated the good, clean fun the Ice Carnival provided for children. As of 1pm Saturday, her children had already earned $10 in coins. The money, however, went right back into playing games, she said.
- The Putt Putt Pub Crawl had people taking trick golf shots for a chance to win free drinks.
- The Human Dog Sled Races outside the Pageant featured teams of employees from Delmar Loop businesses racing down the street dog-sled style. Matchups included the Market Pub House vs. the Moonrise Hotel and Cicero's vs. Halo Bar.
- People in penguin costumes and a stilt-walking juggler walked down the Loop entertaining children.
- Hosted on the rooftop of the Moonrise, the "Cosmonauts on Ice" allowed adults to imbibe free vodka from shot glasses made of ice.