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Warm up with Sag Harbor’s Harborfrost winter festival

Hundreds of spectators watch an ice sculptor at

Hundreds of spectators watch an ice sculptor at work at last year's HarborFrost. Credit: Michael Heller

Sag Harbor’s HarborFrost treats winter-weary Long Islanders to a colorful spectacle rarely seen in local skies on a February Saturday: fireworks.

Chrysanthemum starbursts, colorful peony balls and a “grand finale with golden willows and the heavy bombardment of noise-making salute shells,” provide the bang in Grucci’s five-minute show, at 6:15 p.m. Saturday on Long Wharf in Sag Harbor, says Scott Cooper, Grucci’s director of business development.

“For a midwinter performance it will be pretty spectacular,” Cooper says.

If you’re looking to escape cabin fever, HarborFrost also battles the winter blues with a polar bear plunge, live ice sculpture carving and a musical restaurant tour of the seaport’s finest eateries.


HarborFrost showcases the historic seaport some still call “the unHampton” at a quiet time of year, local officials say.

“The idea of HarborFrost is to say, “Hey, we’re open for business, we’re here year-round’,” says Lisa Field, president of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce and owner of the Sag Harbor Variety store.

Although tourist attractions such as The Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum and the Custom House won’t reopen until spring, Main Street’s shops and restaurants are open, Field says. Visitors can stroll Main Street’s historic Captain’s Row, where whaling captains once lived.

The festival begins with a culinary stroll of four Sag Harbor restaurants.

“We eat, drink, play guitars and harmonicas and pianos . . . and show off these great restaurants and what they are famous for,” says Charlie Canavan of Sag Harbor, founder and president of the Sag Harbor Hysterical Society, a local fundraising organization. Sign up at noon at Il Capuccino, 30 Madison St., Sag Harbor ($50 per person includes food, live music and prizes for best chef hat).

Bringing the kids? Face painting and other indoor children’s activities will be available throughout the day at Dodds & Eder Home, a luxury furniture store. Kids can meet local high schoolers dressed as Anna and Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen” at 2:30 p.m. at Sag Harbor Variety.


Most HarborFrost activities take place outdoors on Long Wharf, the village pier at the end of Main Street and involve cold weather thrills and chills.

The Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance hosts the Frosty Polar Bear Plunge at 2 p.m. at Windmill Beach.

“A lot of people come to watch the plunge, but we really need people to jump in the water,” Field says. Sign up at 1 p.m. at the Long Wharf windmill.

Another unusual sight will greet visitors when an ice carver uses a chain saw, chisels and grinders to fashion a nautical-themed ice sculpture from a block of ice at 2 p.m. on Long Wharf.

“It’s not every day you get to see an ice carver in action. Typically we are tucked away in a freezer, but this [HarborFrost] lets us come out into the open,” says sculptor Rich Daly of Ice Melodies of Mastic Beach. More than a dozen Ice Melodies sculptures will be precarved for display on Sag Harbor’s Main and Bay streets.


Before the fireworks, The Fiery Sensations fire dancers and fire juggler Keith Leaf will be warming up the crowd with their own pyrotechnics.

“I’m going to do my street style fire-juggling show, with a variety of different props and audience volunteers,” says Leaf, 47, of East Hampton, a circus education specialist for National Circus Project in Westbury, who will be performing at 3 and 4 p.m.

“I juggle a knife, a plunger and a torch on top of a rola-bola [balance] board, balancing on top of my juggling trunk,” says Leaf, who has also taken his act to the Hampton Classic and the Oyster Festival.

Leaf lightens the mood with silly jokes, funny hats and circus clown antics.

Says Leaf, “I light my rear on fire.”


WHEN | WHERE Noon-6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, along the Long Wharf and downtown streets, Sag Harbor



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