Clay holds annual Froste Faire

A frosty good time

Between 1400 and 1814, the River Thames froze over completely 26 times.

Each time, the Londoners around the river took advantage of the occasion. In fact, in 1564, Queen Elizabeth I declared a "Froste Festival" when the river froze from "banke to banke."

The town of Clay might not have the River Thames, but it's got plenty of frost -- and its own Froste Festival, started by Parks and Recreation Department employee Chrissy Clancy. The sixth annual event took place Saturday at the Town of Clay Historic Site on Route 31 and included games, entertainment, folk dancing and more.

The Froste Festival is one of many events Clancy has brought to the town that include some historic theme or significance.

"I am naturally drawn to historic connections that I can mold and blend into a unique offering," Clancy said.

Saturday's event was intended to "recreate the merriment" of the 1564 festival while celebrating winter. It was also a free and family-friendly event.

"The event originated as a winter offering by the Town of Clay to give families an opportunity to play as well as attend a no cost event," Clancy said.

In addition, Clancy, who fancies herself a historically displaced pirate, included numerous piratical games and activities, including "Outwit the Pirates" and "Feed the Dragon." She also unveiled a parade pirate ship her CHAOS theater group recently acquired. However, she said it was unlikely pirates -- especially thespian pirates -- actually had anything to do with the original Froste Festival.

"I'm pretty sure that no pirates were shipwrecked in the ice therefore becoming marooned and thus finding themselves developing an affinity for theatre," she said, "but hey, you never know."

It's also unlikely that the Thames will ever again be home to a similar event.

"Due to reconstruction of the bridge [over the river] it isn't likely to ever happen again due to the faster-moving current," Clancy said. "But that doesn't mean we can't bring history back to life here."

Members of the CHAOS Pirate Theater group perform at Clay's sixth annual Froste Festival held Saturday Jan. 16. PHOTO BY SARAH HALL

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