Even the warm weather and less than frigid temperatures couldn’t put a damper on the 8th Annual Chestnut Hill on Ice (CHOI) Festival, which was held on January 27th and 28th. The annual event, which first started as Valentines Day on Ice in 2016, has grown each year, bringing thousands of people to the Hill to admire ice sculptures, witness live carving demonstrations, and enjoy a variety of chili and drink specials among other family-friendly activities. This year, CHOI welcomed a new participant as Chestnut Hill College took part in the annual festival for the first – but certainly not last – time.
“The College has always focused on our relationship with the ‘Dear Neighbor,’ happily partnering with businesses in Chestnut Hill on several recent initiatives including brewing a special coffee blend with Poppy’s Coffee, working together with Chestnut Hill Brewing on the Vale Pale Ale, and most recently taking part in the Chestnut Hill Holiday Parade and Ice Festival,” notes Sarah Hale, annual giving manager at the College. “We’re so lucky to have this beautiful town in our backyard and are thrilled to have such a wonderful relationship and involvement in Chestnut Hill’s many festivals as well as opening up our own campus events to members of the local community.”
Contributing to the centerpiece of the event, the College joined over 40 local businesses and organizations that sponsored ice sculptures along Germantown Avenue, all handcrafted by world-renowned artist, Peter Slavin, who has been a creative partner of CHOI since its earliest days. Among the sculptures Slavin and his team created this year was an approximately two-foot tall recreation of the Chestnut Hill College Athletics logo, which depicts the Griffin mascot in action, ready to soar into competition. The sculpture was intricate in its design, with the wings carved in such a way to create the movement invoked by the logo which inspired the ice creation.
In addition to the sculpture, the College’s mascot Big Griff, was also in attendance, walking up and down the avenue greeting everyone with selfies, hugs, high fives, and his signature dance moves. He even found time to stop by the sculpture garden to approve the sculpture of his image and likeness and take part in the closing ceremony featuring a majestic eight-foot tall bonfire encased in ice.
“The Chestnut Hill Business District was excited to welcome a happy crowd of visitors to Germantown Avenue for Chestnut Hill on Ice,” says Courtney O’Neill, executive director of the Chestnut Hill Business District. “The involvement of Chestnut Hill College and the addition of Big Griff to the festivities was such a treat for the community. We look forward to more opportunities to partner with CHC.”
Just a few minutes from campus, Chestnut Hill on Ice provided a great backdrop for students, faculty, and staff of the College to explore the neighboring community. The College ran shuttles to the event, and invited its community and alumni to come visit to see the College’s sculpture and Big Griff.
“It was so great to see how connected the college is with the town,” notes Rebecca Hyde ’19, SGS ’22, current assistant director of operations for student life. “Community is an integral part of our mission, and to see it spread out in different ways, via an ice sculpture this time, is so cool. The ice fest was a new, fun way to bring alum, faculty, staff, and students together!”
CHOI is just the latest in a series of collaborations between Chestnut Hill College and Chestnut Hill, PA. Prior to the ice festival, Big Griff and several CHC staff took part in the annual holiday parade, marching alongside community organizations, the Mummers, local schools and dance troupes, and of course, the Phillie Phanatic.
- Marilee Gallagher '14