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Berlin to open holidays with tree lighting

Ice sculpting competition returns in all its cold glory

By Greg Ellison

(Nov. 25, 2021) After launching an adapted Christmas season kick-off event in 2020 because of covid-19, Berlin continues its Ice Ice and Tree Lighting shindig staring at 5 p.m. on Friday.

Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells said prior to last year Berlin sponsored a “Tree Lighting & Holiday Shop Night.”

“Everyone thinks that this has been going on for years, but this is actually only the second year we’ve done this event,” she said.

Although before 2020, Berlin’s annual yuletide celebration included an ice-sculpting demonstration, things changed last year.

“Last year because of covid, we altered it,” she said. “You can’t have people standing around watching a live demo all close together.”

Wells said in 2020 the number of ice sculptures skyrocketed to roughly 30 entries, with all work done before the gathering.

“Last year we did it in advance and stored them in freezer,” she said. “Then they bring them down in this big truck and set them up in the middle of the road.”

The approach is being replicated this year with 33 sculptures slated for delivery, with each sponsored by a local business.

“This is such a success because of the sponsorships of the businesses,” she said.

Wells said in a throwback to earlier celebrations, a pair of ice artisans would be on hand for demonstration purposes.


“There’s going to be two guys carving ice in front of the Sterling Tavern,” she said. “It’s a huge event.”

Wells said retail shops would remain open late to accommodate visitors.

“Bring the whole family out,” she said. “Shops will be open late, and you get to experience one of a kind ice art.”

On a somber note, the Ice Ice event will also serve as a fundraiser for ice artist Erik Cantine.

“He was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer,” she said.

Wells said financial support can be provided in two spots.

“In front of the ice-carving demonstration there’s going to be somewhere to make a donation,” she said. “Also there’s an ice sculpture wishing well set up sponsored by Fathom.”

All donations will be contributed to a college fund being established for Cantine’s children.

Confirming the holiday season is underway, Santa Claus is slated to arrive at the “Kringle Kottage” at 5 p.m. for a three-hour tour.

At 6 p.m., Annapolis town crier Frederick Taylor will introduce Mayor Zach Tyndall, who will light the Christmas Tree in front of the Atlantic Hotel on the corner of Main and Jefferson streets.

Adding some rhythm to the evening, the Seaside Dance Academy will perform at 6:30 p.m., with Berlin Heat taking center stage at 7 p.m.

Throughout the evening, Big Al Reno from Ocean 98 radio will pump up the volume.

“Big Al Reno is going to be playing music from the balcony at the Atlantic Hotel starting at 6 p.m.,” she said.

Wells said nearly three dozen ice sculptures would be placed in front of sponsoring businesses for additional viewing the next day, which is also Small Shop Saturday.

“Depending on the weather … people can come out on Saturday if they can’t make it Friday night,” she said. “They won’t be as nice but they’ll still be there.”

Horse-drawn carriage rides will be available on Pitts Street.

“It’s a beautiful way to start the holiday season in Berlin,” she said.

The festivities are sponsored by a grant from the Worcester County Arts Council.

For more information visit or search Facebook for “Ice Ice Berlin and Tree Lighting.”

Saturday also marks the start of Berlin’s Merry Marketplace, held each weekend though Dec. 19 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hot chocolate will be available, with proceeds to support Berlin nonprofits.

During Merry Marketplace, the Welcome Center parking lot will be transformed into a holiday village that will include a “Kringle Kottage” plus artisans and food vendors.

Bob Palladino will provide live music and Berlin Commons will be vending hot cider and mead.

No-cost horse-drawn carriage rides will be available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Also, kids can send a letter to Santa and receive a letter back with a coupon for a sweet treat. North pole-bound correspondence can be dropped off at a special holiday mailbox located inside the vestibule of the Berlin Welcome Center.

The 50th annual Berlin Christmas Parade is scheduled for Dec. 2 starting at 7 p.m.

This year 80-plus floats are on board for the long-running tradition.

The parade will begin at the south end of Main Street by the Berlin Welcome Center, with the main stage located near the Calvin B. Taylor Museum, and then proceed to the Berlin Fire Company.

New Year’s Eve celebrations are slated for both kids and adults.

Before the midnight revelry, a kid’s ball drop and laser light show are scheduled at 5:30 p.m. with the ball drop taking place at 6 p.m.

Grownups can return at 10 p.m. for an end-of-year party and ball drop celebration running until 12:30 a.m.

New Year’s Eve beer and wine sales will benefit nonprofit We Heart Berlin.