All 2,500 tickets to The Nonantum Resort’s Fire & Ice event, held Dec. 13 and 14, were sold out just 28 minutes after they became available for purchase in September.

“I set the alarm for 10 a.m. when they went on sale,” said Caryn Firebaugh of Biddeford Pool, wearing Christmas tree lights on the second night of the event, which she attended for the sixth year. “This is a priority.”

“We wouldn’t miss it,” added Patti Hartig of Fortune’s Rocks.

“Every hotel is chockablock full, and the restaurants, stores and galleries are all full,” said innkeeper Jean Ginn Marvin, who dreamed up the event with general manager Tina Hewett-Gordon in 2009, during the recession – part of Kennebunkport’s two-week Christmas Prelude celebration ever since. “The year before we started doing this, we booked five rooms for the weekend, and now all 109 rooms are booked. The first year we had three weeks’ notice and sold 200 tickets and were thrilled. We never could have predicted that it could have grown at this rate and we’d be able to give back so much to the community.”

Over the past decade, Fire & Ice has donated $90,000 to nonprofits in the Kennebunks – including $5,000 to River Tree Arts and $5,000 to Community Outreach Services this year.

Guests danced to the versatile Carmine Terracciano Band, watched fireworks and fire baton twirlers through fog and ate in cozy fireside lounges, in ice bar tents and around a bonfire and small fire pits.

“I’ve eaten my weight in food,” said Brian Gallagher of Lynn, Mass.

Guests enjoyed chicken tacos, falafel pitas, cheesesteaks, hot dogs, waffle fries, New England clam chowder, Southern barbecue from Texas Grace, steaming hot pizza from Café Miranda and thousands of Christmas cookies, cupcakes and cannoli. Cocktails were poured over ice luges beside ice sculptures shaped like snowmen and Maine-themed things like moose and lobster. Though unseasonably warm, rainy weather didn’t dampen the holiday cheer, it did melt some of the 16 ice sculptures into mysterious shapes by Saturday night.

“Usually the ice stays for weeks, but this time they had to redo certain pieces,” said Stephanie Letellier of Saco. “The lighthouse had a whole other section that had to be chopped off so it doesn’t fall on anybody.”

“And last year we were in our snowsuits because it was so cold,” said Ariel Taschereau of Arundel.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]


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