First Night, or More Accurately, First Morning

State College holds a New Year celebration called First Night. I have never understood why it is not called Last Night or First Morning because it involves the final evening of the year and the first morning of the following year. If you show up tonight–which happens to be the first night of 2012–the festivities have ceased. But I did not write this to discuss semantics.

On this first morning of 2012 I walked downtown to see the ice sculptures from First Night. It is one of the things that I have wanted to do since I have lived in State College and never made happen. When I left my apartment the temperature was in the mid forties; the day was overcast and grey. I drove to campus, parked my car, and then the rain started. So I walked to Allen Street in a light rain, determined to let no weather stop me.

Thanks to the high temperatures and rain the ice sculptures were deteriorating quickly. Many of them were difficult to identify, some were broken, and a select few were still in good shape.

Ice sculptures return to earth.

A headless duck or goose?

Tyrannosaurus rex?

There is a bike shop on Allen Street in State College with a name very fitting to the scene I saw this morning.

Many of the sculptures were in front of this store.

One of the better preserved specimens was Godzilla. It was as if the temperature and rain were not enough to destroy the monster. As I stood near the sculpture, examining it, I was amazed that it was not cordoned off. If Godzilla had lost his head the falling ice chunks could have caused serious damage to anyone unlucky enough to be underneath.

Godzilla seemed immune to the warmth and rain.

I saw a giant letter S. It reminded me of someone.

The S.

The very first sculpture I saw was a small guitar player in front of the Corner Room. When I first arrived a group of people stood around it, so I walked by, intending to see the sculpture on my way back. As I walked past I noticed the head of the guitarist was held up by a dangerously thin neck. Alas, by the time I returned (about 15 minutes later) the guitarist’s head had fallen, reduced to a mosaic of splintered ice on the ground.

The guitarist of Sleepy Hollow.

One of the ice creations at the Sidney Friedman Park was a sled run. A gaggle of children frolicked there, running sleds down the bobsled-like chute into a pit of straw at the bottom. It looked like fun. The light rain made the ice wet, and if it’s possible, seemed to make the ice extra slippery.

I’m glad I ventured out to see the ice sculptures, even if they were in decline. It was a nice and relaxing way to spend part of the first morning in 2012.

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