Thousands ‘chill out’ for OCCA’s Ice on the Avenue
Mid-January has traditionally been a time when Old Colorado City merchants hunker down in the ice and snow and hope that a few customers might wander by.
Did somebody say ice?
With gobs of marketing and ice sculptors skilled with chain saws, the city's oldest commercial district transformed Saturday, Jan. 17 into one of the busiest days of the year, and Sunday wasn't far behind.
Seiko Tran, marketing consultant for the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group, estimated that 10,000 people showed up for the first-ever Ice on the Avenue event Saturday and another 7,000 Sunday.
These numbers were about twice what he had privately anticipated.
“People loved it,” he said. Hundreds of photos were taken of the sculptures, and people were seen browsing through stores up and down the avenue between about 24th and 27th streets.
“Who'd have thought this would be happening in January?” commented a highly pleased Charlie Irwin, president of the OCCA.
The main activity area was the Old Town Plaza parking lot at 25th and Colorado, where 30 blocks of ice were carved. Most of the sculptures were single block, but 16 were used for the largest creation - a depiction of Locomotive 42 from the old Midland railway - as part of the OCCA's effort to fold Westside history into its marketing plans.
Even if the sunshine and high-50s temperatures made the sculptures slightly drippy, they also seemed to encourage more people from around the region to get in their cars and drive to Old Town, Tran believes.
“All the merchants were happy about the people who were here. It was the best January day they've had,” he exulted. “They can't wait till next January.”
Already, regarding next year, talks have started with Michael Campe of Colorado Ice Sculptures, who led this year's carving effort with help from subcontracted sculptor Thomas Barlow. “Next year we hope to double the program,” Tran said. This could include twice as many sculptures and carvers.
As for the present, he thinks the Ice on the Avenue has started people thinking that Old Town is a fun place. “Many people said they can't wait till the next event in Old Colorado City,” he said.
The OCCA is planning four more new events this year, with a mini-activity (a three-restaurant wine tasting) coming up Feb. 7.
Westside Pioneer article