Ice to dye for: South Connellsville women create frozen rainbows
In her 20s, Sheila Lytle and a friend decided winter could use some more color so they tried to dye icicles.
“We actually tried Kool-Aid and Jell-O,” she said.
Both separated from the ice and fell off, said Lytle, 51, of South Connellsville. Their third attempt used food coloring, which adhered to the ice, and that started her 30-year hobby.
“We've done them all over the state and some in Maryland,” she said.
Their current effort is alongside Buttermore Boulevard where it intersects Route 119. They've been coloring the ice there for about three years.
She sees the colored ice as a response to God's love.
“He gives us rainbows, so I was trying to give something back,” she said.
Her 18-year-old daughter, Gianna, has been doing it since she was about 4.
“It's fun, and it's some good mother and daughter bonding time,” she said. “It just brings color to the world. It's just beautiful.”
Other than the cost of the food coloring, it's an inexpensive hobby. In a Jan. 5 interview with the Tribune-Review, an ice dyer in Northampton County said he buys his food coloring at a restaurant supply store where it costs about $4 to $5 a quart.
Lytle said she's been buying hers at grocery stores and appreciated the idea of how to cut costs.
It takes longer to mix the coloring than it does to spray the ice, but the entire process gives her a boost. Motorists often honk and wave or give them a thumbs-up. Some stop to chat and take pictures, she said.
“Any time there's icicles, we're going…,” she said. “It just really gives me a boost, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.”
Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1218, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @TribBrian.