There was a silver lining to fewer tourists showing up for Kennebunkport’s 40th annual Christmas Prelude, celebrated with events Dec. 2-12. More locals were able to score tickets to the ever-popular Fire & Ice holiday fundraiser at Nonantum Resort, some folks after a decade or more of trying.

“I’ve been waiting 12 years to get in,” said Chris Pekar of Baldwin.

“In” was a bit of a misnomer. At the two-day event, held Dec. 10 and 11, only one bar and the restrooms were indoors. While the bonfire, fire pits and the ice sculptures are always outside, this year, all the food, most of the drinks and even the seven-person Carmine Terracino Band and dance “floor” were set up in tents.

“We’re embracing Mother Nature,” said marketing coordinator Hannah Lamprey. “And the decision we made two months ago was that this would be a safe way to enjoy a tradition from previous years.”

Roughly half the number of tickets were sold as in years past, and each night was split into two time slots: Twilight and Moonlight. With no more than 600 people at Fire & Ice at any given time, social distancing wasn’t difficult. As guests arrived, they showed proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test and were offered a Fire & Ice gaiter.

Outside, where nearly the whole event took place, guests admired the handiwork of ice sculptor Jeff Day, who had transformed 18,000 pounds of ice into sparkling works of art. Day even carved an anchor and chains in an otherwise empty swimming pool, every link chiseled out of ice.

Guests varied in what they considered the highlight of the evening, among the ice sculptures, the bonfire, the comfort food and drinks, and dancing along with the live band. But all agreed that the night as a whole was quite merry.

“I’d definitely come again,” said Richard Pandiscio of Wells.

Each night benefited a different local nonprofit, with Friday’s proceeds going to Kennebunk Heritage Housing Trust and Saturday’s proceeds going to Kennebunk Land Trust.

“This is great for the town and great for Nonantum,” said Rick Roberts of Kennebunk.

Kennebunk Heritage Housing Trust board member David Kling said, “The need for donations and grants is continuous because we subsidize the cost of housing in Kennebunk.”

The trust has completed its first project, Heritage Woods, which has six homes. The town provided the land, and the trust covered the cost of the infrastructure, such as roads and utilities, to increase the amount of affordable housing available in Kennebunk.

“Our goal is to provide 25 homes by 2025 that remain permanently affordable,” Kling said.

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


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