The Abington Business and Professional Association is moving forward with plans for the Clarks Summit Festival of Ice this year, but visitors can expect it to look different as the COVID-19 pandemic continues into 2021.

Preparation is underway for the popular festival, now in its 17th year, which will salute the heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic with the theme “Hometown Heroes on Ice.”

Ice sculptures displayed outside Clarks Summit businesses from Feb. 12 to 14 will depict nurses, grocery store workers, truck drivers and other essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

“There’s so many people involved in trying to keep the community safe and keep people well,” said past ABPA President Janice Bevacqua. “We just thought it was a great tribute to all of them.”

Last year’s Nintendo-themed festival occurred about a month before the COVID-19 shutdown in March.

Health and safety guidelines for COVID-19, including face masks and social distancing, will be in effect for this year’s festival. The festival takes place outdoors, which lends itself to social distancing, Bevacqua said.

As usual, visitors can expect sculptures from Sculpted Ice Works of Lakeville around town, as well as a scavenger hunt and specials from businesses.

The ABPA is still working out the details of the festival, but Bevacqua said some activities won’t return this year, including the horse and carriage rides.

Typically, around 50 businesses participate in the festival. So far, more than 30 plan to take part, she said.

Jessica Colvin, owner of Pure Suds Co., called the festival a tradition that brings camaraderie to the Clarks Summit community. She believes it’s especially important to have it in a time where people need to stay hopeful.

“Hopefully it will help to uplift spirits in town if nothing more,” Colvin said.

Everything Natural owner Neil Persad called this year’s theme appropriate, considering the responsibilities people in those occupations have been taking on during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I call them the heroes of 2020,” he said.

Updates about the festival will be posted on the ABPA’s Facebook page as they become available. Businesses interested in participating should contact the ABPA on Facebook.