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Ice artists battle warm temps for annual Fire + Ice Fest

'The rain is certainly not good for the ice'

READING, Pa. - As the temperatures climbed into the 60s on Friday, organizers were dreaming of the colder conditions of past Fire + Ice Fests in downtown Reading.

"I remember very clearly people dancing at the intersection of Fifth and Penn to live music with 12-degree temperatures," said Charles Broad, executive director of the Downtown Improvement District.

This year, opening night was set to be unseasonably warm and wet.

"It's not just the temperature, but the rain is certainly not good for the ice," Broad said.

Ice artist T.J. Neary fought the drizzle and drip with detail and dry ice.

"You work quickly, you work smart," Neary explained. "That's why I'm trying to detail this one up, and then I'm going to cover it back up with dry ice."

Beyond the ice, there is sustenance, sound and fire.

"We've got food trucks, live performances, music performances. We've got live fire acts," Broad said.

The festival continues to grow every year and brings more visitors downtown.

"We've had two business people take two properties on this very block and rehab the businesses here because they want to be on this block where this stuff is happening," said Broad.

Meanwhile, Neary was hoping his hard work holds up overnight as he prepares for Saturday's ice-carving competition. He hopes his skills will be the opposite of the falling temperatures.

"I'm not the best. I'm not the worst, but I'm definitely in the middle. I'm on my way up," Neary said.

The Fire + Ice Fest will run until 10 p.m. Friday and from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m Saturday.


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