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Fire and Ice Festival brings Prospect Park community together

The annual Luxton Fire and Ice Festival provides Prospect Park residents a way to reconnect during the winter.
Image by Jean Emmons (courtesy)
The Luxton Fire and Ice Festival will be held on Saturday, Feb. 3.

The annual Luxton Fire and Ice Festival returns Saturday, despite the warm weather, allowing Prospect Park residents to reconnect for the new year.

The Fire and Ice Festival takes place at Luxton Park at 112 Williams Ave. SE and features a bonfire, horse-drawn hayrides, music, a book exchange and food and drinks. The festival’s food goes toward the Luxton Learners summer program.

Luxton Park is remodeling to build Spark’d Studio that will include STEM-based activities, according to Luxton Recreation Supervisor Steve Zimmer. This year the festival will include microscopes from the studio along with a Touch Table and face painting. 

The main attraction of the festival is the bonfire made of dried-up holiday trees from the neighborhood. 

Lydia McAnerney, a member of the Prospect Park Environment Committee, said the community aspect and involvement are big attractions for her.

“I’ve lived in Prospect Park for 23 years and, when my kids were younger, we would go as a family,” McAnerney said. “Our Christmas tree would get picked up to be used as part of the festival.”

Zimmer said this year is the first time the temperature is going to be this high and dry, so they are paying attention to fire warnings. He added that if there is a warning, the bonfire will be postponed but the activities will still take place. 

Jean Emmons, senior program manager at Luxton Learners, said that despite the lack of snow, she will still enjoy the bonfire, the night sky and the hayride.

“It’s really fun to go on the hay bale ride,” Emmons said. “It’s silly, you just go around the walking track, but there’s something special about it.”

The festival brings a lot of different people from the neighborhood together to kick off the year, Zimmer said. Emmons said they have not done many community events because of COVID-19.

“There’s other larger get-togethers, but this one just kind of brings people together,” Zimmer said. “A lot of people that come attend the Luxton Learners after-school program and the summer camp, so it’s all like one big happy family almost in a way.” 

The Luxton Learners summer enrichment program is for children from kindergarten to 16 years old, and Emmons provides them with a place where they are accepted, supported and successful. The profits help fund art materials, food and field trips for the children in the program.

They take field trips to places like Tower Hill and Bridal Veil Community Gardens and partner with the Textile Center for classes to try to connect with the community as much as they can, Emmons said.

Emmons added she likes to get children involved with the festival by helping make menus and posters and providing them with a treat and drink at the festival.

According to Emmons, she receives help from students at the University through America Reads or the Community Engaged Learning Program and hopes to see them at the festival. 

“They do so much for us,” Emmons said. “We would not be able to sustain the program without their energy, their time and care for us, so I would love to see that happen.” 

McAnerney said a big draw for people is that the festival is an opportunity to see people that you do not see in the winter.

“You don’t have to do anything, you just come,” McAnerney said. “You come and you see your neighbors and you remember why you’re part of this neighborhood.”

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