The Rapidian

Public vote to determine winner of downtown ice sculptures

More than 25 ice sculptures are going on display in downtown Grand Rapids for the public to vote on for Valentine's Day weekend.
Underwriting support from:

/Courtesy of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

/Courtesy of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

On Valentine’s Day weekend, the public is encouraged to view dozens of spectacular works of ice art in Downtown Grand Rapids. Entering its second year, the Valent-ICE winter festival encourages the four-season enjoyment of Downtown. Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) is proud to organize this event in partnership with the City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department and “Ice Gurus” Randy Finch and Derek Maxfield, stars of the Food Network’s Ice Brigade television show.

This year, more than 25 sculptures will be displayed, but the community will still have the opportunity to select the design of the largest piece, carved from roughly 3,000 lb. of ice.

Valent-ICE grew from continued community requests for reasons to experience downtown during the cold-weather months. In February of 2014, DGRI introduced the Valent-ICE event by commissioning a single, giant ice sculpture for Downtown. For this year’s event, other community partners have joined to commission sculptures of their own. More than 25 businesses and nonprofits have selected ice sculptures that will be on display for the public on February 13 and 14.

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. will still commission one giant sculpture to be determined by public vote.

This week, votes are being collected by the public via an online voting form. Voting for that sculpture will run from January 26 through January 30. The final selection will be revealed with a live ice carving at noon on February 14 at Rosa Parks Circle. Voters can visit the website now to cast their votes.

“One common theme that we hear from community members is a desire for winter programming that can help them enjoy Downtown during the cold months,” explains Kristopher Larson, President and CEO of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. “We tested the concept last year on a smaller scale with a single sculpture, but the wide participation and excitement this year shows us how cold-weather events can help people connect with and love the place where they choose to live and play.”

Additional activities will be focused on enhancing the experience of the displays. On January 13, participating merchants will have specials and giveaways for attendees who visit the displays during the day. That evening, DGRI will host “80’s on ICE” with “AB” spinning tracks, costume contests, free hot chocolate from The Salvation Army and ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle.

On Saturday, while the public is watching the Voters’ Choice sculpture revealed, children’s activities will be hosted by ArtPrize, the Geek Group, LaughFest and Sissy’s Sweet Shoppe. Kids will also be able to skate for free at Rosa Parks Circle.

The many sculptures Downtown will vary by size and theme. Some of the larger sculptures were commissioned by event sponsors, including the Amway Hotel Corporation, Barfly Ventures, Block by Block, DeVos Place, the Downtown Market, Franklin Partners, the Grand Rapids Art Museum and Swift Printing. More information is available at downtowngr.org.

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