Traverse City Record-Eagle

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February 14, 2014

Comedy fest opens with 'Queen of Nice' Rosie O'Donnell

TRAVERSE CITY — Pangea’s Pizza did a booming business during the last Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival, even a block away from downtown events.

Now that the festival expanded to the 100 block of Front Street and will draw people right to his door, front-of-house manager Justin Sailors is taking no chances. He’s adding an extra cook and servers and opening the restaurant’s heated deck.

“We definitely plan on having a surplus of people from the festival,” Sailors said. “Last year we were extremely busy. It was the best week of the season. We’re very intrigued to see how it turns out this year, considering we’re in the middle of the action.”

The 2014 Comedy Arts Festival opened Thursday with a sold-out show by “The Queen of Nice,” Rosie O’Donnell, at the State Theatre. It continues today with a dozen more shows, a movie and a podcast, and the 5 p.m. opening of snowy “Free on Front” activities along Front Street between Park and Union.

Set-up of the outdoor events began at midnight Thursday and was expected to continue today beginning at 6 a.m., said Trevor Tkach, executive director of the National Cherry Festival, which is putting on the Comedy Arts Festival with the Traverse City Film Festival.

Besides ice skating, sledding and Ferris Wheel rides, today’s schedule includes zip line rides, ice mini golf, an ice carving demonstration, bonfire-side s’mores at a “Fire & Ice” tower, and partying at an International Ice Bar featuring ice décor and native drinks of Olympic delegations.

Chad Hartson and his crew of five planned to head north early this morning with their load of ice sculptures for the festival.

Hartson, owner of Ice Creations near Toledo, said they’ll haul about 18,000 pounds of frozen creations, including 60 sculptures for along Front Street and hundreds more for the International Ice Bar. Besides the 2,000-pound bar itself, the icy sculptures include cocktail tables and chairs, a “drinks luge,” a wine rack that will hold real bottles of wine, and about 200 “rocks” glasses.

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