Over a decade ago, the city of Town & Country decided to hold a summer celebration, setting off fireworks and distributing free ice cream to residents. After the tried-and-true combination of fireworks and frozen treats became a local tradition, the annual event became known as “Fire & Ice.”
The name has stuck, becoming locally synonymous with beating the heat and spending time with friends and family.
With some minor differences and returning traditions, the 2017 Fire & Ice event celebrates the summer on June 24 at the city’s Town Square property, located off of Clayton Road. The event will be held from 6-9 p.m., with fireworks taking place at approximately 9:15 p.m.
Last year, Fire & Ice drew about 3,000 attendees, and the city anticipates a similar turnout this year.
A Town & Country tradition
The original inspiration for Fire & Ice was another local event called Jubilee Jamboree, held in 2000 in honor of Town & Country’s 50th anniversary. The event featured an early version of the “Our Town, Our Country” parade, plus carnival rides, a petting zoo and a fireworks show.
In the 17 years since, the event has become a Town & Country tradition, known for its devoted sponsors, kid-friendly activities and local cuisine.
Through 2009, Fire & Ice was held near what is now Westminster Christian Academy. From 2010-2013 it was located west of Target in Town & Country Crossing. Since 2014, it has been on the Wirth property, the future location of the city’s Town Square.
“This is our third location for the event, and each location had its own unique features,” said Anne Nixon, director of Parks and Recreation. “Having the event at our soon-to-be Town Square is very exciting. Having people gather and having fireworks shot off right in the center of town makes it extra-special for everyone.”
Nixon has been with the Parks and Recreation Department for 10 years and has watched the event evolve to include local sponsorship, live bands and help from dozens of local businesses and restaurants.
No parade this year
One of the changes made to the 2017 event is the absence of the traditional “Our Town, Our Country” parade. According to Nixon, the parade will be cancelled in 2017 in anticipation of inclement heat and storms, weather patterns that have affected the parade in previous years.
“We’re not having the parade for Fire & Ice this year, but we do plan to have it next year,” Nixon said. “It may become a semi-annual event, so we’re still working on that.”
Nighttime fireworks display
One of the Fire & Ice highlights is the fireworks display that occurs after dark. The show will be set to a choreographed soundtrack and launched from The Principia’s field, located at 13201 Clayton Road. Attendees will be able to view the fireworks from the north side of Clayton Road on The Principia’s property, or the south side of Clayton Road on the Town Square property.
Preparation for the fireworks has spanned several months, with the city’s Board of Aldermen unanimously approving a motion at a May 22 board meeting authorizing the Parks & Recreation Department to enter into an agreement with J&M Displays, Inc. to issue a purchase order of about $7,600 for the show. According to Anne Nixon, director of Parks and Recreation, the same bonus was approved for the 2016 fireworks.
“It’s really a wonderful show with really intimate fireworks, just because of the proximity from where they are launched to where people can view them,” Nixon said.
Food and drink
In addition to the fireworks display, attendees can expect to see a variety of local cuisine at the Taste of Town & Country dining area, which will be lined with booths from local restaurants.
Some of the booths include Mike Duffy’s Pub and Grill, Farotto’s, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Menchie’s, Kona Ice and Subway. Residents will be able to purchase grilled food, cold beverages and desserts.
The Taste of Town & Country dining area was added in 2006.
For restaurants like Mike Duffy’s Pub & Grill, which has been involved with Taste of Town & Country since its inception, getting involved has become a community tradition. Mike Duffy’s is the only restaurant to have been involved in every Fire & Ice event.
“We’ve always done it because we like to stay involved in the community, and we’ve got a lot of business from regulars here,” said Kirk Spisak, general manager of Mike Duffy’s.
According to Spisak, the dining area has a laid-back atmosphere reminiscent of a backyard barbecue.
“We actually grill out there,” Spisak said. “We obviously sell our famous burgers, but we do hot dogs as well. We get our kitchen managers out there and they’re cooking everything up on the grill.”
The event is advertised as cash only, and an ATM is available at the Midland Bank in Mason Woods Village.
Steven J. Push, a Nashville-based musician and former St. Louis-area middle school literature teacher, is returning to the area with his band, “Push.”
“We’re really excited to have him back in town,” said Nixon. “We try to keep the musicians local whenever we can.”
With a blues-pop style based on musicians like Ray LaMontagne and Martin Sexton, the band played at Fire & Ice five years ago and will be returning to do a mix of covers and original music from their latest album.
“It’s nice to have something to come back to,” said Steven Push. “Maybe after we play this second time, we can keep coming back down the line if it works for both the city and where we are as a band.”
The event boasts many activities for kids of all ages. Bounce houses will be available, and the Bubble Bus also will make an appearance at the event.
Based in Valley Park, the Bubble Bus is a retired school bus painted with bright colors and 60s-inspired patterns. Workers use the bus to haul bubble-blowing equipment on site.
“Some of their workers blow some of the really large bubbles, and some of them have smoke inside,” Nixon said. “It just sort of fills the area with bubbles.”
Shuttles and parking
Clayton Road is scheduled to remain open throughout the event. The Town & Country Police will be available to control traffic. Residents also will be able to utilize the pedestrian crosswalk between Straub’s and the West County EMS & Fire Station, as well as the Clayton Road Trail.
Parking will be available at The Principia, the First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Longview Farm Park. A shuttle will make runs to and from the fire station and the church.
Fire & Ice continues to draw familiar businesses, restaurants and locals back to the area for an annual celebration that’s been decades in the making.
Two recurring sponsors, Mari de Villa Senior Living and Coldwell Banker Gundaker, have sponsored the event for about 10 years.
According to Dana Devers, branch manager of Coldwell Banker Gundaker, the branch works hand-in-hand with the city to determine what forms of kid-friendly entertainment the company can provide.
Devers said one of the branch’s main reasons for their devoted sponsorship is the event’s ability to engage the community and bring residents together.
“Not only does [Fire & Ice] engage the Town & Country community, but it brings in people from all over St. Louis and gives them the opportunity to appreciate the city as well, and have a fun day and enjoy the activities,” Devers said. “We are proud of the community, and it’s our honor to be part of anything that contributes to, helps and helps recognize what an outstanding community Town & Country is.”