Houston Chronicle | 11.27.2018
Reverend Butter says his aim is precise.
Rolando De La Garza, the cowboy-hatted, leather-clad ice sculptor who goes by the moniker Reverend Butter, is known for the theatrics of his live carving shows, where he wields multiple chain saws and incorporates elements of fire.
When he carves a 1-ton block of ice into an oversized throne Saturday at CityCentre’s “Glisten” event, he expects most of the kids in the audience will be impressed by his loud machinery, speed and the shavings he sprays on them from as far as 30 feet away.
They get as close as they can to the action, he said. But, sometimes, there’s a skeptical young “heckler” in the audience. With good nature, Reverend Butter will use his precision to pelt him or her with the shavings he calls “rooster tails.”
“They just want to get blasted with snow,” he said. “And they want pieces of ice afterwards, like a souvenir.”
When he’s finished with his 30-minute show, the 7-foot by 7-foot throne will be illuminated by colored lights for photo ops.
“It’s always cool to do something interactive,” he said. “You become part of the sculpture instead of just looking at it from a distance.”
The throne can hold up to seven people at a time.
Before the carving, Glisten kicks off at noon when Santa rides into the development’s central plaza in a red Cadillac. Poking his head out of the vehicle, he greets families each year with a jolly “Ho, ho, ho.”
Some families will queue up for photos with Santa, but most will first make a beeline for the snow hill, where man-made snow covers 5-foot plastic slides. Sleds are on hand for riding. Nearby, a play area filled with snow is designed for younger children.
Kids get in line to ride the hill again and again, making snowmen while they wait. Plenty of adults descend the hill, too.
“I’ve had parents come up to me before and say, ‘This is probably the only snow my child will ever see in Houston,’” said event organizer Katrina Buerger. “It’s pure joy on all their faces when they see the snow.”
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“It’s an up North experience brought to the South,” Reverend Butter said.
At 5 p.m., Santa rides his Cadillac back to the North Pole to make room for a DJ who sets up for the evening component of the event. Attendees can sip complimentary hot chocolate while they wait for the ice show at 7 p.m.
The event will culminate with the lighting of CityCentre’s central plaza. All the lights in the development will turn off for a countdown. The trees that line the boulevards and the holiday décor will all illuminate at once, along with the plaza’s central fire pits. A new, giant Santa hat will remain lit through the season for photos.
Families who attend Glisten can bring new, unwrapped gifts to donate to children who will spend the holidays getting care at Texas Children’s Hospital-West Campus. Barbara Retzloff, of nearby Pines Presbyterian Church, will help manage the toy drive again this year. She’ll have holiday cards children can use to attach sentiments to their gifts.
“Those were pretty precious last year,” she said of the handwritten notes.