West Hartford Holds Fire on Ice Celebration

More than 1,000 people attended the in-person and drive-in event held on Chanuka at West Hartford’s Town Hall parking lot, featuring a live concert and a giant ice menorah.

A huge crowd cheered “Happy Chanukah!” and dozens in their cars honked their horns as Chabad of Greater Hartford’s 14th annual “Fire on Ice” Chanukah celebration.

More than 1,000 attended this “in-person” and “drive-in” event held on the first night of Chanuka in West Hartford’s Town Hall parking lot.

The two-hour event featured a concert by Yoni Z, the carving of an 8-foot-tall ice menorah, arts and crafts, rides, and other activities.

Rabbi Shaya Gopin of Chabad of Greater Hartford said the event, which was inaugurated in 2008, converted last year to an in-car event due to the coronavirus pandemic. That proved to be such a big hit that this year’s event is hybrid. People can stay in their cars or wander.

“Last year, more than any other year, we felt we had to do something to bring people together. People felt so cooped up. It was like we were letting them out of prison,” Gopin said. “We set up a tall stage, an LED screen, good sound. It really engaged well. It brought people a lot of joy.”

A giant LED screen allowed everyone – including those watching from their cars – to see and “be a part of” all of the on-stage activities, including the carving of the giant ice menorah displayed and lit each year.

Chabad’s youth and Hebrew school director, Rabbi Yehuda Matusof warmed up the crowd with a fun and fast-paced Chanukah Game Show. David Waren, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, gave a message thanking Chabad for bringing the Chanukah event to the community and for their work in West Hartford over the past 40 years “illuminating our community with the light of Torah and mitzvah.”

And of course, children of all ages collected Chanukah gelt and other treats sprinkled down from the top of a fire truck ladder by the West Hartford Fire Department during the annual “Great Chanukah Gift Drop.”

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