Win­ter fun

An­nual Fire & Ice fest set for Sun­day in Pine Grove

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - Front Page - BY DANIEL P. PROSICK COPY EDI­TOR

W ith the fore­cast read­ing 45 de­grees, the com­mu­nity is wel­come to warmup with some hot choco­late— and chill out with some home­made ice cream— at a county park event thisweek­end.

Di­akon Com­mu­nity Ser­vices is slated to again host the Fire & Ice Win­ter Fest from 2 to 5 p. m. Sun­day at the Sweet Ar­row Lake Club­house, 108 Club­house Road, Pine Grove, ac­cord­ing to Su­san Long, cen­ter ser­vices di­rec­tor at Di­akon. Ad­mis­sion is free, but a few ac­tiv­i­ties carry a small fee, with all pro­ceeds ben­e­fit­ing Di­akon.

“Our goal is to re­lieve cabin fever syn­drome and chase away the win­ter ‘ blahs.’ The event gives folks a chance to ven­ture out­side, to spend a fe­whours with fam­ily and friends while en­joy­ing the splen­dor of our county park in the win­ter­time,” Long said.

The event, in its fifth year— it was can­celed due to snowin 2016 — of­fers some­thing for ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing Splash the Clown mak­ing bal­loon an­i­mals for chil­dren, a chili cookoff, hot dogs to roast over a fire and live en­ter­tain­ment. And, if theweather co­op­er­ates, ice skat­ing, sleigh riding and an ice dive from the Schuylkill Haven Dive Res­cue & Re­cov­ery Team, Long said.

New this year, how­ever, is a pro­gram that ju­bi­lantly jus­ti­fies a choco­late lover’s sweet tooth.

Kim Wood ford, nu­tri­tion ed­u­ca­tion ad­viser for the Penn State Ex­ten­sion in Schuylkill County, will do a pre­sen­ta­tion ti­tled “Healthy Choco­late Dream,” ex­plain­ing the health ben­e­fits of the co­coa- de­rived del­i­cacy, and mak­ing a south- of- the- bor­der hot choco­late.

“Mex­i­can Hot Choco­late dif­fers from tra­di­tional hot choco­late by ad­ding cin­na­mon, vanilla ex­tract and nut­meg,” Long said.

That won’t be the only con­sum­able with added spices; the Fire Hot Chili Cookoff is set to fire things up a bit. There’s no charge to en­ter the con­test, but Long asks that “com­peti­tors to do­nate a large crock­pot of chili.” There is a charge, $ 5, to taste the chili se­lec­tions and en­ter a vote. Last year’s peo­ple’s choice win­ner was none other than a county com­mis­sioner.

“Gary Hess won the com­pe­ti­tion last year and 2013; he has par­tic­i­pated an­nu­ally since 2012. Will he be de­throned as ‘ chili king’? Only time will tell…” Long said.

Hewill be com­pet­ing against 2015’ s win­ner, Jesse Wade, whois pro­vid­ing the mu­si­cal en­ter­tain­ment.

“Wade has been en­ter­tain­ing au­di­ences for 30 years with tra­di­tional and rockin’ coun­try mu­sic,” ac­cord­ing to Long.

If the heat of the chili is too much, Bob Evan­chalk will be demon­strat­ing ice cream mak­ing on site to help cool off.

And pro­vided there’s enough ice, the Schuylkill Haven Dive Res­cue & Re­cov­ery Team will prac­tice

“... The event gives folks a chance to ven­ture out­side, to spend a few hours with fam­ily and friends while en­joy­ing the splen­dor of our county park in the win­ter­time.” Su­san Long, Di­akon Com­mu­nity Ser­vices di­rec­tor

ice res­cue and ice div­ing.

“Ice res­cue al­lows us to help peo­ple and/ or an­i­mals that are stranded or have fallen through the ice. The ice dive is used to per­for­munder water search and re­cov­ery,” Long said. “By do­ing the demon­stra­tion, the pub­lic gets a chance to see all that is in­volved in ice res­cue and re­cov­ery. It also makes peo­ple aware thatwe have these trained in­di­vid­u­als in our county will­ing to help our neigh­bors. We are able to talk to the pub­lic in a com­fort­able set­ting and can an­swer the ques­tions that they may have.”

Up next for Di­akon is the Break the Ice Coun­try Dance to be held from 7 to 10 p. m. Feb. 23 at the Sweet Ar­row Lake Club­house.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the event or any other Di­akon do­ings, email Long at longs@ di­akon. org or call 570- 624- 3018.

JACQUELINE DORMER / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Elmer Kramer, Min­ersville, right, pre­pares a cup of his hot sausage chili for Teddi Cun­ning­ham, Min­ersville, dur­ing last year’s Fire and Ice Win­ter Fest. This year’s event will be held from 2 to 5 p. m. Sun­day at Sweet Ar­row Lake Club­house, Pine Grove.

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