Although there is art in music and food, the joy of creating a cardboard sled together as a family could be seen on the winner’s faces for the best-decorated sled.
Various flavors of hot chocolate flowed at Yesterday’s News and the Foundry Bakehouse & Deli, crafts and games at the Library and Kids ‘N’ Stuff Children’s Museum, a princess tea at Stirling Books & Brew, and great music at Albion Malleable Brewing Company in the form of the Aston Neighborhood Pleasure Club kept people busy at Albion’s Winterfest on Saturday, February 1st. And although there is art in music and food, the joy of creating a cardboard sled together as a family could be seen on the winner’s faces for the best-decorated sled. There wasn’t enough snow to race them down the hill at Victory Park, but that didn’t take away the pride the winners felt receiving their star-shaped awards at the ice rink in Albion.
Winners who came from Jackson, Lansing and Tomkins Center gathered outside the rink and posed their sleds in what snow that could be found. “Their grandpa has been doing this with their dad and brothers and all of them since they were little,” said Allison Vinton. Six-year-old Emerick’s shark cardboard sled won first place while nine-year-old Vivian’s purple sled won third. Their father, 35, started creating sleds when he was six years old. Snow or no snow the family keeps coming back every year. “I like to see them getting involved in community events and doing family traditions,” said their mother Allison. The family and relatives came from Jackson and Lansing.
The second-place winner had a batmobile cardboard sled. “I’m from Albion!” said five-year-old Ulysses as he displayed his red and black sled with the Batman logo on the sides. His relatives came from Tompkins Center, Mi to support him and help build his sled. Different voices from family members explained all at once how the tradition was started. Twenty-five years ago the daughters of the family came out to run their sleds, but now the great-nephew was the star of the hill. The sled was designed after a favorite TV show. Fugate’s dad loved the 1960’s Batman show and now it’s his son’s favorite. The entire family participated in helping Ulysses make his sled which took three days. The families are going to save the sled and try it out in Victory Park or Tomkins Center out once it snows again. In harmony, they all say, “the snow’s coming!”
In harmony, they all say, “the snow’s coming!”
The topic brought up an animated discussion from the audience and concerns from Senator Dr. Bizon. He stated, “I have great concerns about the use of marijuana within our community and especially by our youth.” He continued, “It does incredibly bad things to the adolescent brain.” He also added the use of alcohol during pregnancy could make a fetus that is dependent on society forever due to brain damage. His concern with marijuana and the youth brain is the long-lasting effect on the youth’s mental health. He stated, “It is an increased risk of anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, psychosis from the use and the current studies are showing that it is not only at the time of use, but also ten, twenty years later that you are still increasingly prone to those same psychiatric disturbances.” He expressed frustration over the problem when he said, “I don’t know how to keep things away from our kids. We haven’t kept tobacco away from the kids. We haven’t kept alcohol away from our kids and I am afraid we are not keeping marijuana away from our kids either. In my mind, this is a catastrophe. This is an emergency. We need to come up with a way to keep our kids safe and from going down that road.”
Ice, blocks of ice that is, arrived in downtown Marshall for the Wine, Beer & Blues Festival the same weekend. Ice Carver Chef John Merucci has been carving ice for the festival for over six years. What keeps him coming back is the chance to express his art. “I guess I like the fact that I have something in my mind rattling around. You know, a design and I want to get it out, said Merucci. He started thinking about what to carve four to five weeks ago when the sculptor found out the theme for this year was the carnival and then decided on a carousal. “It’s kind of like childhood figures. I have asked a couple of children passing by what should I put on here? So, I got the cheetah and the dragon from that and we did the little dog on the other side.” It took seven blocks of ice to make the carousal and Merucci said, “That’s about 2100 pounds.”
Marcia Peterson from Olivet came on Friday, January 31 to see the art.
“On cruises, I watched them make small carvings probably twelve to twenty-four inches high, but I’ve never seen them do one as big as this, so it’s really cool and amazing.”
Her friend Janet Deroot also from Olivet agreed, “I love it. I love art.”
Merucci was joined by four other chefs. Two came from the Kalamazoo area, one from Nashville, Michigan, and another from Ohio. For Merucci, time is key to creating a complicated structure like a carousal. “Something big like this, it takes six, seven hours easily.” Another carver, Nichole Cantrell is head chef at the Firekeepers Casino Hotel. She shaped an elephant earlier in the evening and also finished a seal on Friday. There is a method to carving. Hers, “I start with an overhead projector, magnify the picture to the size of the block, which is forty by twenty. You trace the template and you start blocking it away.” The elephant to her three hours to make. She explained the cold doesn’t bother her because as a carver you are constantly moving. In the end, it doesn’t mind how long it takes her. She said, “I just love it.”
For Merucci, time is key to creating a complicated structure like a carousal. “Something big like this, it takes six, seven hours easily.”
Pictures by Sylvia Benavidez
This story is reprinted with permission from The Recorder.
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