Once upon a time

First Posted: 2/5/2015

CLARKS SUMMIT — Once upon a time, in the not-so-far-away land of the Abingtons, there lived and worked a group of people collectively known as the Abington Business and Professional Association (ABPA), who decided to throw a borough-wide party in the wintertime, called “the Clarks Summit Festival of Ice.” The inhabitants of the land of the Abingtons found the idea grand, and enjoyed the festival so much, they decided to do it again the next year. And the next. And the next after that.

This year marks the 11th Annual Clarks Summit Festival of Ice, with a theme of “Frozen Fairy Tales.”

The weekend-long event will be held Feb. 13 through 16 at various locations in and around the downtown district. The weekend will kick off with a Family Fun Faire and parade the evening of Friday, Feb. 13. The faire will begin at 6 p.m. with activities scheduled until 9:30 p.m. in the Clarks Summit Borough Building, future home of The Gathering Place. The parade is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. and will run along State Street in front of the Borough Building.

ABPA Executive Director Laura Ancherani said she is excited about this year’s theme and looks forward to the fairy tale activities and seeing the reactions of children to the ice sculptures, which will be on display outside various downtown businesses. She added she hopes to see some young attendees dressed in their favorite fairy tale character costumes.

“I think it is a good fit,” she said of the theme, “because it is something that is mainstream for not only children, but adults as well. Fairy tales are on TV and in the movies for all ages, so we were very excited to be able to bring this theme to life this year.”

One way in which the event aims to “bring the theme to life” for adults is through a free presentation sponsored by Abington Area Community Classroom and The Gathering Place, titled “The History of Fairy Tales, The Story Behind the Stories.” During the presentation, which will be begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday at The Gathering Place (downstairs in the Clarks Summit Borough Building), Dr. Amanda M. Caleb, assistant professor at Misericordia University, will talk about the history of fairy tales and how they relate to social issues.

“My hope is that people will understand the roots of fairy tales and think about why we are still interested in them today (why are there so many fairy tale shows, movies, etc.?),” Caleb said. “I also hope people will understand how fairy tales engage with issues of social justice: they are rooted in issues of poverty, gender inequality, sexual and domestic violence, etc., and I think they can teach us a lot about how we should view these issues today.”

Caleb said she had an interest in fairy tales since a young age, but her academic interest in the topic began about four years ago. Her training is in Victorian literature, science and medicine, and although fairy tales don’t necessarily relate in a direct way to her research, many Victorian texts implement fair tale motifs and themes.

“What initially fascinated me was how fairy tales were used by Victorian women to engage with fairly complex criticisms of the age, including economics and gender equality,” she said. “Since then, I’ve expanded to thinking about how literary fairy tales (particularly Victorian ones) are constructed and how they function as a form of ‘imaginary truth’ for the age.”

Her two favorite fairy tales, when forced to narrow the list down, are Oscar Wilde’s “The Happy Prince” and Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market.”

“Wilde’s fairy tale is a beautiful (yet sad) expression of his socialist views in critiquing the misuse of public funds during the Victorian age,” she said.

“Rossetti’s poem is one that has intrigued me since I first read it as an undergrad, as it has so many possible interpretations: we might read it as a religious allegory, a tale of female solidarity, a critique of laissez-faire economics, or a warning about food adulteration — I really appreciate the depth of the tale!”

For those who would like to experience this concept of storytelling being for adults and not just children, The Gathering Place, along with Scranton StorySlam, is sponsoring another free event at the same location at 8:45 p.m. Friday, titled “Storytime for Grown-ups: Once Upon a Time…”

Other Clarks Summit Festival of Ice activities include live music, ice sculpture carvings, business open houses, juggling, face painting, children’s crafts, horse and carriage rides, an ice skating party, food, a scavenger hunt and more.

But according to Ancherani, the event isn’t something one can understand without enjoying it first-hand.

“I experienced seeing the festival for the first time eight years ago, after being told about it by my father who was very active in working on the festival back then,” she said. “He was trying to explain all of it over the phone to me while I was living in Texas, and I couldn’t quite understand what it was exactly. It wasn’t until I moved back to the area and actually experienced it for myself that I truly grasped how wonderful and magical that it was.

“Not only that but the size and scope of it is unreal unless you experience it for yourself. It is always so wonderful for me now having worked on it for so many years to see people experiencing it for the first time and just the joy of knowing that I had a hand in the experience that these people are having at the festival brings a great feeling of pride.”

And they lived happily ever after.

The end.

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