The public has an opportunity to vote for what will be sculpted from a huge block of ice as a part of a special Downtown Valentine’s Day series of events. Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (Downtown Inc.) has hired ‘Ice Guru’ Randy Finch from the Food Network’s Ice Brigade television show to carve a sculpture as large as 8 feet tall as a part of its inaugural Valent-ICE event. The preferred design will be selected by the public and revealed on Feb. 12 at Rosa Parks Circle.

“When Downtown Inc. approached me to publicly carve an ice sculpture decided by voters, I was thrilled. I usual spend my winters traveling to snow and ice competitions, but it’s rare to find this level of involvement from the community. As a Grand Rapidian, it’s easy to feel connected with this event. It’s an opportunity to combine my art with my community.” explained Finch.

To make a selection, voters must go online to The poll opens on Tuesday, Jan. 21 and will close at 5pm on Friday, Jan. 24. Options include a life-size sleigh, an Antarctic (Artic?) scene of penguins and polar bears, lovebirds in a tree, the Robert Indiana LOVE design, and a heart with Cupid. Following the voting period, anticipation will build until Feb. 12 when the Ice Guru will reveal the community’s preferred Valent-ICE sculpture. The carving will occur at the Grand Rapids Art Museum near the front steps. Local vendors will be on location so that the public can purchase lunch and watch the live carving from noon until 2 p.m.

Voters also have the opportunity to see their name or special Valentine’s message sculpted in ice. For every $20 donated to The Heartside Fund through the Downtown Inc. website, people can have 9 characters etched into an ice sculpture. 18 characters are also available for $30. Due to size constraints, there will be the opportunity for, at most, 32 engravings, so those who want to convey a specific message are encouraged to donate early. The Heartside Fund is administered through the Heart of West Michigan United Way to social service organizations within the area. The Heartside Fund is then given to residents of Heartside in need of temporary assistance including medical bills, weather-appropriate clothing, and job-required purchases.

The sculpture is scheduled to remain as weather permits. In order to protect it, particularly from the snow melt system on that street, the sculpture will be set on a wooden pedestal.

Added Kimberly Van Driel, Marketing and Events Coordinator at Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., “We are committed to helping expand the vibrancy of our great Downtown events season into a year-round asset. Events such as Valent-ICE will help establish our Downtown as an amazing four-season place to live and work, and show that the ideals of winter play can occur without skates, skis, or bobsleds. Embracing our unique brand of community engagement, the public will help to shape the program of the event, and will get to celebrate their decision together as we watch an extraordinary local talent carve our idea into a frozen masterpiece.”