Ice sculptures, cold brews line Manayunk streets for annual 'Freeze-Out' event

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WPVI) -- It was a "Freeze-Out" in Philadelphia today, and it was due to more than just the weather.

"The whole original thought of this event was, you know, how can we create a fun way to generate business in the tougher months of the year," said Liam Houck, the Market Manager of Founders Brewing in Pennsylvania.

The nationwide brewing company has been deeply rooted in the Philadelphia area since the early 2000s. That's why it hosts the annual "Founders Philly Freeze-Out" every year to support the small businesses in which their brews flow.

"It's ringing true now more than ever," said Houck in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. "This was needed, so we didn't want to give up on it. So, we just found a new way to kind of do it."

Founders Brewing Company partnered with Ice Sculpture Philly to make custom works of art for businesses along Main Street. Guests watched in amazement as professional sculptors chipped away at a Phoenix carved in ice.

"I can program a design on the computer and the machine actually just replicates it with a router bit into the ice," said Gabriella Santoro, an artist with Ice Sculpture Philly. Once the outline is made, the hard work is done with power tools and a handheld chisel.

Santoro met lead ice sculptor Peter Slavin at this very event three years ago.

"I told him that I wanted a job and he gave it to me," she said. Just three years later, she honed her skills enough to play a major role in sculpting most of the ice art that decorated Main Street today.

Guests could also tour the famous lineup of restaurants and bars while enjoying special deals on food and drinks.

"I like that everything is one street," said Kelley Riley, who lives in Manayunk. "Really delicious parts of the city all in one spot makes it affordable and easy to get to."

Despite the close proximity of each eatery, business owners say it's less of a competition and more of a collaboration.

"If they're coming to the Manayunk Tavern or The Couch Tomato, eventually they'll come around to the other one," said Michael Cassano, Co-Owner of The Couch Tomato Cafe.

Cassano says the store is surviving thanks to its upstairs bistro, creative menu choices, and third-party delivery services.

"I'd say at times we're doing better than we were before the pandemic and times we're just hanging in there," he said. "So, you know, dealing with the punches as they come."

To learn more about the businesses and attractions in Manayunk, visit Manayunk.com.

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