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Tobyhanna Ice Harvest is back after two-year break

Thin ice and the coronavirus canceled the harvest for the last two years.

TOBYHANNA, Pa. — Calls for colder temperatures and thicker ice were answered by Old Man Winter, allowing the annual Tobyhanna Ice Harvest to go on as planned.

"The whole Pocono area here, there's a dozen or 15 different lakes, they harvested ice off of. It was a big industry back at the turn of the century," said Bill Leonard, one of the festival organizers.

Thin ice and the coronavirus canceled the harvest last two years.

Leonard says Millpond Lake has just over a foot of ice, making conditions perfect for this weekend's ice harvest.

But, it is a process.

"We cut with the ice saw first, and then folks grab a handsaw and saw the ice rest of the way through so people can come out and experience history," Leonard said.

This is the first year in several years you'll be able to see the harvest. Cut blocks of ice will go up a conveyor ramp and into the ice house. Organizers say they are looking to fill it, which means they need 400 blocks of ice.

Leonard says the harvest is a piece of history he's trying to keep alive in an area where the ice industry thrived. Ice from lakes in the Poconos kept food and drinks old in places like New York City all year long.

"It was an important industry, and it's dying because people just go to the refrigerator and press a button to get ice anymore, but back before refrigerators, they had to harvest it off of lakes like this," said Leonard.

The 29th annual Tobyhanna Ice Harvest will take place this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. All are welcome.

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