MAYVILLE - It's been a couple of years in the making, but an ice castle is once again the centerpiece of the annual Presidents Day Weekend Winter Festival in Mayville.
On Friday, hundreds of area residents gathered at Lakeside Park to witness the dedication and lighting of the ice castle in a ceremony that would commence an entire weekend of festivities.
The ceremony kicked off with a dedication given by Bruce Stanton, board member of the Mayville/Chautauqua Community Chamber of Commerce, who thanked a number of festival sponsors and recognized the team of builders responsible for the construction of the ice castle, led by community member David Douglas.
The Kleinfelders of Mayville are pictured together after being dubbed the royal family of the 2014 ice castle at the annual Presidents Weekend Winter Festival. In back are John Kleinfelder, king of the ice castle, and Gretchen Kleinfelder standing in for her mother Marsha Kleinfelder, queen of the ice castle. In front are John and Marsha’s granddaughters Alexis and Emalie, princesses of the ice castle.
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
"We started this year's program without a builder," Stanton said. "It's a job that obviously requires a lot of work and dedication, especially with the subzero temperatures we've been having this winter. After trying to find a construction foreman, David Douglas raised his hand and has done an outstanding job of rallying a crew. So, on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce and the community, we want to thank Dave for the great job he's done."
Stanton then recognized this year's king and queen of the ice castle for the weekend, bestowing the honor upon John and Marsha Kleinfelder, business owners and residents of Mayville - with their granddaughters Emalie and Alexis Kleinfelder receiving the title of princesses. The Kleinfelders were selected for the honor because of their role in the continued success of the ice castle for many years, as well as their many contributions to the community.
The proclamation was followed by the ceremonial lighting of the ice castle in conjunction with a brief fireworks display. It was a welcome sight for veterans of the festival, who have missed out on the colossal fortress due to unseasonably warm winter weather the past two years.
Shaun Hummel, a Panama resident, said he tries to make the trek to Mayville for the festival each year, but this year was special for a different reason.
"I try to make it every year, but this is my daughter's first time seeing the ice castle," Hummel said of his 3-year-old daughter Sophie. "It's pretty cool to see, and I always enjoy checking it out when I can."
The Presidents Day Weekend Winter Festival will resume today at 10 a.m., and will feature a number of activities lasting through 10 p.m. Highlights include a cold water rescue demonstration by the Dewittville Fire Department at 11:30 a.m., a Polar Bear swim to benefit the Mayville Food Pantry at noon, a chili cook-off contest from 2-4 p.m., a snowball distance throwing contest at 2:30 p.m. and an 8 p.m. fireworks display.
Participating in the Polar Bear Swim will be a team of 10 costumed Family Health Medical Services employees who have raised more than $600 in pledges for the Mayville Food Pantry. The activity is part of the office's ongoing commitment to a policy of giving back to the community that has so far raised more than $300,000 over the past 15 years.
Stanton also said Tom Cole of Westfield, the winner of this year's Winter Festival Treasure Hunt, will accept the Treasure Hunt Medallion at 1:30 p.m.
The festival will continue into Sunday, with activities being held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For a complete listing of festival activities, visit www.mayvillechautauqua.org and click the "Presidents Day Weekend Winter Festival Schedule - 2014" link on the lefthand side.