As a way to motivate me, my Mom used to quote Jiminy Cricket in saying, “David… ‘nothing comes from nothing.’” As it turns out, Jiminy Cricket ripped it off of Parmenides in the 5th century whose statement became a rallying cry for frightening Nihilists. Darn Cricket didn’t know what he was doing! In fact, this concept popped up again (Pre-Cricket) in a different context in Shakespeare’s King Lear. King Lear decided to retire and divide his kingdom among his three daughters. They are required to come forward and flatter him… for money. Seems healthy. His two older daughters Regan and Goneril, flatter and deceive their Dad, and receive their rewards. The youngest, Cordelia, who loves him most, cannot find the words to articulate this love. He asks her to speak up and praise him more than her sisters. When asked 'what do you have to say?' Cordelia responds "Nothing." Lear goes nuts yelling, "nothing will come of nothing," and banishes her without money, title, or any part of his kingdom.
Lear was wrong, the Nihilists are a freaky bunch, and you should never trust a Cricket… but the truth is that nothing comes from nothing. Even in Cordelia’s case, she felt love, but said nothing. We can’t just stare at blank canvass and hope it paints itself. We can’t just wish city transformation to happen. We must DO SOMETHING for there to BE SOMETHING.
There didn’t used to be a Frosty Fest that drew 15,000 people together celebrate the Family Day Weekend in Harmony Square. In fact there didn’t used to be an ice carving’s chance in hell that 15,000 would ever gather together downtown period! The story of Frosty Fest is the story how nothing can become something… and how something can become something amazing.
When Harmony Square opened to the public in we at Freedom House simply approached them and asked, “How can we help serve the city and make this square awesome?” Lori Dawn Cavin of Parks of Rec replied “I wish we could have something that’s big like the Jazz Festival… only in the winter. Do you think that you guys could do a winter carnival?” Freedom House’s Brian Beattie with idyllic (yet petrified) eyes said, "OF COURSE WE CAN!" That afternoon he emailed me saying, “We’d better start Googling, ‘How to run a winter carnival’ because we’re about to run one!”
If you’ve never been to Frosty Fest; it’s delightful. If you catch just the right moment, you’ll find yourself in a Normal Rockwell painting… lost in the mesmerizing art of ice carving, having long-buried memories unearthed from eating snow taffy like your great grandfather used to make while children ice skate in the gentle snow. This place in time exists in Brantford. It enriches your soul, revives your appreciation for winter and tastes like a warm Canadian tonic right at the moment of winter that it’s most needed. This February 14-16 will mark the 6th anniversary of this experience of Frosty Fest.
3 years ago during the annual Family Day apple cider toast in hand-carved ice goblets, Mayor Chris Friel looked out over the largest collection of people that I’ve ever seen downtown at a single moment. He said words that I’ll never forget. He said, “This is the watershed moment in the transformation of our downtown.” Something came from something.
When Jesus was asked what the most important rules were, He gave his followers two. Rule #1 is Love God. Rule #2 is Love Others. The rest is gravy. When you see lanyards around the necks of some of our volunteers during at Frosty Fest saying, “Rule #2,” it’s our way of reminding ourselves that whether we’re cooking up funnel cakes, running The Wrecking Ball inflatable, or feelin’ the chill in the bones from helping kids down the snowslide… it’s about loving others. And so it MEANS something more.
A city is what a city does. It is the sum of it’s parts. Each part came from an idea. But nothing comes from nothing. An aloof thought in the shower of what could be or should be doesn’t just happen. All it takes is saying, “Sure I’ll do that!” Saying yes and being actively kind is a powerful, counter-cultural overthrow of the self-centeredness our society is plagued with. The cure of kindness is something ordinary people like you and I possess. Those who will have the courage to stand up and say, "Here you go. This is for you. I see value in you." will shape our future.
We made Frosty Fest... for you. We made it because we love you. I can’t wait to share Family Day Weekend together with you. For all the details, follow Frosty Fest on Facebook or Twitter @FrostyFest
I'm going to Frosty Fest in @HarmonySquare. Feb 14-16 10am-2 Rides, Trolley, Free Skate, Kids Fun, Funnel Cakes, Figure Skating #frostyfestFollow @FrostyFest
— Frosty Fest (@FrostyFest) January 23, 2015