Cantine prepares for Ice Ice Berlin while battling cancer
BERLIN, Md – Erik Cantine has traveled the world sculpting ice, and locally, he’s known for turning Berlin’s Christmas Tree Lighting Festival into an icy wonderland.
The Ice Ice and Tree Lighting festival was inspired by Cantine’s icy artwork.
However, this year, after surgery to remove a lump from his head, Cantine received the unfortunate news, he was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer. Now as he quietly fights for his life, he says the diagnosis isn’t something that concerns him anymore.
“I’m not worried about that it’s day by day and what’s important to me is just living my life by my own values just be happy,” says Cantine.
Cantine tells us, finding out he has cancer was a gift. He says, “Because not everybody has the ability or has been given the ability or change the way they think about how they’re living their life.” He adds, “Not so much how you’re spending your dollar, but for me, it was how am I spending my time, and what memories am I building, your focus just shifts.”
Before Cantine got to this journey in his life, he was and still is a talented ice sculptor. He tells us, he began making ice sculptors years ago, attend Chef school, and eventually found others who shared his passion for icy artwork.
“When the great chefs became great ice carvers, we realized there’s a market for it, so we started taking it to the streets,” says Cantine.
Ice sculpting became a hobby, a passion, and according to some community members, a memory maker. Cantine began doing ice demonstrations at the annual tree lighting festival in Berlin. Eventually, Ivy Wells, the Director of Economic and Community Development partnered up with Cantine to introduce the Ice Ice and Tree Lighting Festival. Cantine sculpts ice-cold artwork just in time for the holidays, and I’m told he’s becoming the towns on personal ‘Ice Man.’
“He donates so much of his time to this event, he volunteers his time, he does not get paid for this event at all, because he loves it and wants to do it,” says Wells.
With his diagnosis, some might have thought they’d have to go without the ice sculptors this year. However, Cantine tells us, this can’t slow him down. “I don’t feel that I have any restrictions and there’s no reason why I wouldn’t,” he says. Cantine adds, “And if I see some kids smile, it’s going to make me very, very happy and I know I will.”
Cantine’s partner, Kate Maloney tells 47 ABC, he’s already working on ice sculptures for this year’s festival and hasn’t missed a beat.
“Anything and anytime he can help out in the community, he does.” Maloney adds, “To put his health aside and him aside, that just shows the kind of guy he is.”
Maloney says, being a caretaker and a partner to Cantine is just the next step in their relationship. She says she’s loved helping him with past ice events, and now she is ready to assist in whatever way she can.
“He’s been a champ through this, he’s fighting and he’s determined he’ll be here to do it and do it like he always has,” says Maloney.
Meanwhile, Cantine’s daughter Mikayla Cantine says, his willingness to keep going isn’t that surprising.
“He’s very hard-working, he’ll work through anything, he’s always been very strong and he can get through anything he puts his mind to.” She adds, “Even though he’s going through a lot and he’s constantly tired and constantly going through his own things, he’s still going to do it, he believes he has to.”
Mikayla tells us, learning about her dad’s diagnosis changed a lot for their family.
“At any second you have no idea what’s ahead of you, and just live in every moment because you don’t know if there’s a tomorrow you don’t know anything like that.”
However, now that she’s focusing on the time she has with her dad, she says she sees him from a whole different perspective. “I get to look up to him and live his life a little bit, understand him a little more,” says Mikayla.
Along with Mikayla, and Maloney, although they both know how strong Cantine is, Wells tells 47 ABC, the news of his health, was devastating. “My first thought was actually his kids because setting up the event is a family affair,” says Wells.
Now with all hearts going out to Cantine and his family, the town is rallying around him to make sure he continues his fight.
“He helped us make beautiful memories over the last several years, now it’s our chance to be able to help him help his children,” says Wells. She adds, “You’re having such a good time and one of the reasons you’re having such a good time is because of these beautiful ice sculptures that Erik did. Now he’s the one in need, we’re the ones who need to help.”
Now that Cantine is still participating in the festival on Friday, November 26, the town of Berlin is making sure they keep the gift of giving going. Between a GoFundMe, fundraisers, and the festival, members of the community are making sure Cantine and his kids will always be taken care of.
Cantine tells us however, he’s sticking to what he knows best, bringing joy with his art. Whether the doctors give him eight months, two years, or ten years, he said he’s cherishing every day from here on out.
“What became something new to me, it became something more important and valuable to me which was the smiles you can put on everyone’s faces,” says Cantine. He adds, “Well all of us will pass one day but I’ve been allowed to say hello wake up!”
Cantine also tells us, even when gets to the point where he can’t do big projects, he’s going to continue his art with smaller ice sculptors, and even transition to wood carving.
The festival starts Friday, November 26th at 5 p.m. in Berlin. This year, there will be multiple fundraisers during the festival with proceeds going towards a college fund for Cantine’s family.
Click here to visit Cantine’s GoFundMe page.
Click here for more information on the festival.