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Light Up State College Aims to Break Guinness World Record

by on January 11, 2017 5:00 AM

Light Up State College could put the borough in the record books, but only if the local community joins in the effort.

Organizers of the event are hoping to light 3,000 ice luminaries on Feb. 4 on the 100 block of South Allen Street to break the current Guinness World Record of 2,561 held by Vuollerim, Sweden.

Ice luminaries are cup-shaped structures made entirely out of ice that hold a light inside. John Stitzinger, a founder of The Make Space in State College, which is organizing the event with Centre Foundation, said individuals can sign up to participate and get instructions on making ice luminaries at Residents also can find inspiration for molding their own on websites such as Pinterest, Instructables and other maker resource websites.

Ice luminaries can only be made of ice and light to count toward the world record. No decorative items can be frozen inside of them. 

“We want to transform Downtown State College into a winter wonderland and achieve a world record, but we need the community to make it happen,” Stitzinger said. 

Since the event is counting on the community to participate in large numbers, The Make Space also has kits available, which can be picked up during the its weekly open house at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.

"They can completely do it themselves but we want to make it fun and easy for people to do it with their kids or their organizations, so we have kits to hand out," he said. "They have instructions in there and information about the event."

Stitzinger said that ideally individuals will make and freeze several luminaries, share the word with neighbors, and offer to bring friends' luminaries to the drop-off on Allen Street between 2-5 p.m. on Feb. 4. The potentially record-breaking moment will be at 6 p.m.

The idea for the event grew from work at The Make Space. Stitzinger said that though the workshop has been open for about five years, he finds that many residents aren't aware of what it is or where it is. (It's at 141 S. Fraser St., in the alley between the Fraser Garage and the rear of Green Bowl.)

The Make Space is a nonprofit, community resource run by volunteers for anyone who likes to create, share knowledge and work with art and technology. It has resources like 3-D printers, laser cutters, a well-equipped workshop with tools and public computers, to name a few. And it hosts free classes and serves as a meeting space.

"We had been doing some vacuum forming to make molds as something to demonstrate," Stitzinger said, "Vacuum forming is something that’s easy to do for maker spaces... it became a great thing for us to do for demos. Everybody loves to see them and they can take one of these molds home. It seemed like ice luminaries would be a good thing to use for these molds."

Stitzinger and others then heard about the Knight Cities Challenge, which awards competitive funds to innovators for ideas to make communities more vibrant places to live and work. They submitted a last-minute application, and won a $51,450 award to make Light Up State College happen.

"I think the reason we won the grant is the community involvement aspect," Stitzinger said. "This is an event that will be the sum of everyone in the community's contribution."

Centre Foundation is the event's fiscal sponsor, and Stitzinger credits the foundation as a vital resource for organizations as well as connecting with the community.

Stitzinger hopes Light Up State College will draw attention to all that The Make Space has to offer but also be a way to bring together the State College community. He also hopes to see individuals and organizations get creative with their ice luminaries.

"I dream of this being one of the most interesting winter events for people to attend," he said. "We need everyone to bring several luminaries and encourage and help their friends to do so, but we also welcome artists and non-artists to be creative in their luminaries that count for the world record. I hope individuals, schools, organizations and businesses will, above and beyond that, be innovative in creating interesting other sound, light, fire or interactive things for everyone to enjoy while they are downtown that day."

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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