JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) — This week’s mild weather did not stop a wintertime tradition from kicking off in Chautauqua County on Friday night.
The Presidents Day Weekend Winter Festival generally opens with the ceremonially lighting of the ice castle in Mayville’s Lakeside Park. However, with very little ice on Chautauqua Lake, alternative plans took shape.
In years past organizers used snow instead of ice, but with the snowpack melted off, the event’s planning committee turned their attention to more solid materials: wood.
Specifically, the Winter Festival’s Christmas Parade float was brought in to preserve the annual tradition. With a repurposed backdrop, the castle’s king and queen Elizabeth and Andrew Freay, along with their children Molly and Maggie, were crowned.
“It’s really nice to be included in this, and recognized,” explained Elizabeth Freay. “We love our community and being a part of Mayville.”
“It’s an honor, it’s a privilege, we’ve been to the ice castle since I was a little kid and now to be a part of it this way is quite an honor,” continued Andrew Freay. “This is a great modified ice castle, it won’t melt, this is Western New York so you never know what’s going to happen, the weather we wanted just came a little bit late.”
Festivities continue all weekend long, featuring carriage rides, a chili cook-off and an evening firework display on Saturday night. A full breakdown is posted online at chautauquachamber.org/winter-festival.