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HarborFrost Plans to Bring Spark to Winter

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By Claire Walla

HarborFest … in February?

That’s the idea.

This winter, the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce aims to hold the first of what it hopes will become an annual tradition based on the successful September event. This one will instead be called HarborFrost.

This year’s proposed one day Frost, tentatively set for Saturday, February 5 from 3 to 7 p.m., will revolve around the theme “Fire and Ice,” an idea that will manifest itself through the event’s main spectacles. In addition to flanking Main Street with two ice sculptures (as of yet with undetermined designs), the event will be capped-off by a fire works display that will light-up the winter sky over Long Wharf. Event planners are also floating the idea of having a hot soup contest (in the same vein of HarborFest’s chowder contest), and will encourage local restaurants to offer post-fireworks prix fixe menus.

“The goal is to get some sort of winter activity to give Sag Harbor families something to do in the wintertime,” said chamber member Phil Bucking, owner of the Sag Harbor Gardening Center and one of the catalysts behind this year’s event.

Plans to implement HarborFrost are not yet set in stone, though the Chamber of Commerce hopes to have insurance and logistical documentation to the village trustees by Friday, a few days before the board’s meeting on Monday, January 10 at 6 p.m.

Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce President Robert Evjen said that he and other chamber members have been toying with the idea of creating a winter festival for a few years now. Based on the success of HarborFest, held each September, HarborFrost will bring people to Main Street for a day of shopping, eating and celebrating — in spite of the cold.

“We want an event that will help our businesses in the winter months,” Evjen added. The event could be especially helpful for stores looking to clean-out last year’s summer merchandise in preparation for the coming year. Keeping with the theme of fire and ice, one of the chamber’s ideas is for stores to sell summer (fire) merchandise alongside winter (ice) goods.
Previous attempts to create such a Frost have included more ambitious activities, like a Polar Bear Plunge and plans to bring an ice-skating rink to Main Street. But these ideas never came to fruition, Bucking said.

“Funding has been an issue, and it’s sometimes hard to get people involved,” he added.

This year, however, event organizers have a clear and simple plan of action, with several financial pledges already in place.

The total cost will run about $14,000, more than half of which is already expected to be covered by financial pledges.

Prudential Douglas Elliman, Brown Harris Stevens, Hampton Gym Corp and the Sag Harbor Express have pledged money that will go toward the cost of the ice sculptures (which will cost a total of $7,000); and local non-profit Save Sag Harbor has signed on to cover all media costs (which are budgeted at $2,000). What’s more, the Grucci family, which estimated the cost of a five to seven minute firework show at $5,000, said it would match any amount over that $5,000 total dollar-for-dollar. (In other words, if the chamber raises $7,500, the Grucci’s will put on a $10,000 show.)

Other Main Street businesses have reportedly expressed interest in making small financial contributions, should the village approve plans for HarborFrost at its trustee meeting on Monday.

“Since this is the first year, the plan is to do more and make the event bigger [each subsequent year],” Bucking explained. “This time, we just want to get the ball rolling.”

HarborFest September 11-13 2009

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