Meltdown Brings Winter Fun

By Louise Ronald

It was pretty warm at Richmond’s 2016 Meltdown Winter Ice Festival.

Six-year-old Parker Weiss was one of the last kids to go down a slide made of ice before it collapsed in the 60-degree sunshine.

Parker’s pants got a little wet on the slide, so he and his grandparents, Allen and Connie Weiss, were on their way back to their car for a change of clothes when they got distracted. First, there was free hot chocolate and popcorn. Then, there was a chance to watch Dean “The Dragon” Demarais create an ice sculpture from scratch right on Main Street.

Parker was hooked.

And he wasn’t alone.

Families were all over downtown Richmond and the Depot District during the Meltdown, a four-day annual event made possible by a partnership of more than 75 businesses and organizations. In addition to the sculptures adorning both neighborhoods, the festival includes a Family Fun Zone complete with icy table tennis, corn hole, putting green and the ill-fated slide, a fun run, treasure hunt, crafts and games. Evenings bring Ice Fights – when professional carvers compete to see who can create the best sculpture in a timed contest.

“The Dragon” said he was still tired from his Friday night Ice Fights victory when he began building a new creation Saturday under Parker’s watchful eye, but you’d never know it from the way he fielded questions from spectators – especially Parker.

Dean "The Dragon" Demarais shows a picture of one of the ice dragons he has created to Alexander Lerner, 4, and his mother, Heather Learner, during the 2016 Meltdown Winter Ice Festival in Richmond.

Dean “The Dragon” Demarais shows a picture of one of the ice dragons he has created to Alexander Lerner, 4, and his mother, Heather Learner, during the 2016 Meltdown Winter Ice Festival in Richmond.

When 4-year-old Alexander Lerner came by in dragon costume, Demarais greeted him as a brother. “Someday, you’ll grow into a great big dragon,” he told the boy.

Alexander was participating in another Meltdown activity, the Frozen Fairy Trail. His mother, Heather Lerner, helped bring fairy doors – tiny doors hidden in out-of-the-way corners of area businesses – to Richmond.

Elizabeth Swinney brought her four daughters to Old National Road Welcome Center to get a map of the fairy trail and create a craft. Swinney move to Richmond seven years ago and has found activities with her kids a good way to meet people.

“I am blown away by the things that are offered,” she said.