Melting Away Winter

The Fire and Ice Festival gets Plymouth families outdoors to celebrate winter.

Face it: The wind is whistling outside, and old snow is caked so deep into the sidewalk, you’re not even sure there was a sidewalk there to begin with. In the doldrums of winter, it’s easy to sit inside waiting for the weather to warm up. Problem is, the kids are restless, the last of your holiday hot chocolate is used up, and you’re looking for ways to keep everyone busy.

In the summer, you can easily find an outdoor festival or event. Right now? Festivals aren’t nearly as common.

Now, embrace it: For Plymouth residents, the Fire and Ice Festival exists to warm the soul and get people outside to enjoy everything the cold months have to offer.

“Fire and Ice started 26 years ago as a joint venture between the Plymouth Civic League (which sponsors the fireworks) and the Parks and Recreation department,” Plymouth recreation supervisor Dan Lauer says. The event was, and still is, a great way to get people outside to enjoy everything the community has to offer during a time of year when most people are avoiding frigid temperatures. The exact history of the festival is hard to trace, as the event has continued through the years with a variety of supervisors. However, for local families, it is an event that rarely disappoints.

“It’s such a community event,” Plymouth resident Leigh Hendrickson says. “We’ve been going for 14 years, and it is fun to be outside and see people. You just don’t get out as much in the winter.”

Hendrickson, along with her husband and children, Sam, Jon and Gunnar, have attended the festival every year since they moved to Plymouth in 1998. With school-age kids, the Hendricksons love the opportunity to get the whole family involved—even beyond attending. “My husband has driven a four-wheeler pulling carts a few times, and my oldest son has been a volunteer with the games,” Hendrickson says.

The Hendricksons are a perfect representation of what the festival means for the people of Plymouth: Fire and Ice is truly about celebrating the community. Whether it is families enjoying a night of fun or members of the community volunteering to bring the event together each February.

“We’ve kept it a local community event, and we don’t publicize to the whole metro,” Lauer says. “For the most part, we get three to four thousand people coming through.” In addition to those festivalgoers, the event sees 40 to 50 volunteers working behind the scenes or helping out with games and events. From the draws such as pony rides, ice skating and ice golfing to different live entertainment acts each year, there is a lot of work and planning that goes into creating the event, often beginning in August or September.

One of the biggest draws the past few years has been the medallion hunt. This month-long event started five years ago and offers residents the chance to take part in a scavenger hunt across the city. Each week leading up to Fire and Ice, a clue is published in the Sun Sailor and on the Plymouth Parks and Recreation website. Residents use these clues to track down a medallion that is hidden somewhere on Plymouth city property. The first person to find the medallion wins $250 and is celebrated on stage at the festival. In addition to the medallion hunt, one of the best things about Fire and Ice are the fireworks, generally hard to find this time of year.

Being a winter event, weather can become an issue. Somewhat ironically, warm weather actually doesn’t bode as well as colder weather for Fire and Ice. With everything taking place outdoors, and much of it on ice, warm temps can cause dangers, from unsafe ice conditions to slippery mucky snow. In fact, the only times the Hendrickson family has missed Fire and Ice are two events that were called off due to warm weather. Lauer concurs: “A picture perfect day would be twenty degrees and sunny.”

Event Details

What: 26th Annual Fire and Ice
When: Saturday, February 7; 3-7 p.m.
Where: Parkers Lake Park, off County Road 6 and Niagara Lane.
Cost: Free
Getting there: Shuttles run from Oakwood Elementary School, 17340 County Road 6.
More Info: Check the city’s website for shuttle service hours and a complete event schedule; 763-509-5205 (weatherline)

This Year's Lineup

This free, family-friendly winter festival combines recycling bin races, youth ice fishing contest, goofy hat contest, hayrides, pony and sled-dog rides, miniature golf on the ice, snow bowling, recreational skating, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing—weather permitting. If the cold sets in, warm up by a crackling bonfire with s’mores and hot chocolate sponsored by Step by Step Montessori.

4:00 p.m.: Goofy Hat Contest (Showmobile Stage)
5:00-5:45 p.m.: A performance by magicians Mr. & Mrs. Magic (Showmobile Stage)
5:45-6:30 p.m.: Fire dancers by Funtime Funktions (Showmobile Stage)
6:30 p.m.: Fireworks sponsored by the Plymouth Civic League
*Detailed schedule of events is posted on the city’s website,