BERLIN– The town kicked off the holiday season with what was likely record attendance at Ice Ice Berlin.
On Friday, thousands of people descended on downtown Berlin to watch Mayor Zack Tyndall light the town’s tree in front of the Atlantic Hotel. They spent the hours afterward strolling through town to admire the ice sculptures placed in front of local shops.
“It was a spectacular event,” said Ivy Wells, the town’s economic and community development director.
During departmental reports at this week’s council meeting, Wells thanked the town staff that helped make the annual event possible. She said employees from various departments pitched in to ensure the event, which included Santa at Kringle Kottage, 37 ice sculptures in front of town shops as well as live entertainment, went smoothly.
“It was an incredible night,” she said.
Wells told the council that a relatively new resident, a women who’d moved to town a year ago, had asked to help light the tree. While Mayor Zack Tyndall officially pulled the tree lighting switch, it was the resident who pushed the button to turn on the tree’s lights.
“She was so happy,” Wells said.
Councilman Jay Knerr praised law enforcement for their efforts during Ice Ice Berlin.
“They had to deal with car crashers, crowd control, parking nightmares, and they deserve a big thank you,” he said.
Councilman Steve Green said he’d had houseguests for the holiday weekend and they’d loved experiencing the tree lighting.
“They said they’d never seen so many people in one place at one time,” he said.
Wells acknowledged the huge crowd that had been in town.
“I know there’s a lot of talk ‘it was too crowded’,” she said, referencing a photo shared on social media that showed a sea of people around the town’s tree. “A picture’s worth 1,000 words and you know 10,000 people. Everyone happened to be gathered in that one spot at that one time for the tree lighting and then they dispersed.”
She said Kringle Kottage had been placed at one end of town while most of the ice sculptures had been at the other. The musicians who performed strolled along Main Street, pausing in various locations to play their pipes and drums.
“People were actually traveling all over town,” she said.
Tyndall said he’d been happy to see the crowd.
“I remember a time not long ago when we couldn’t do that,” he said. “I like seeing all the people together.”
He added, however, that the immense crowd had knocked out cell service in the area and people hadn’t been able to communicate adequately.
“Not everybody was on the same page,” he said, recalling how ambulances had been responding to emergencies that town officials weren’t even aware of.
Tyndall said that for the Christmas parade, he’d be asking Verizon for a cellular system on wheels. He also believes the town should explore purchasing radios for use during situations like Ice Ice Berlin.