WILDFIRE ON ICE
MISSION & HISTORY.
Wildfire on Ice is an event draws together Minnesota's wildland firefighting community, during the off-season, to raise funds in support of fellow firefighters throughout the United States, and their family members, who are either injured or have fallen in the line of duty. All proceeds from WOI go directly to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, based in Boise ID, who provides financial support where insurance and worker's compensation cannot. Additionally, the WFF raises funds to memorialize fallen firefighters.
Four hockey teams, made up of representative firefighters from State and Federal Natural Resource agencies, participate in the friendly charitable hockey tournament which is held annually in January in Walker, Minnesota. Recently added to the event is a curling bonspiel, in which eight teams of wildland firefighters curl the day before the hockey tournament.
Wildfire On Ice is proud to partner with the Arvig® Walker Area Community Center to host the daytime activities in their great facility. In addition to the curling and hockey tournament, the event is open to the public, offering firefighter and local community families the opportunity to ice skate with Smokey Bear, and enjoy pizza and drinks from the Village Square Café and Pepsi Nei Bottling. The community center receives a $2000 donation each year for hosting.
Saturday evening, attendees gather together at the Chase on the Lake Resort to complete the celebration festivities with a banquet, awards, raffles prizes, live and silent auction and general camaraderie. The wildland firefighters and family members enjoy spending several days in the Walker community shopping, dining, ice fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, and enjoying the small town hospitality.
The event began in 2012 when a small group of firefighting hockey enthusiasts decided to create a fundraiser to help support the WFF. They tied it together with Hockey Day Minnesota and the event was hosted in Grand Rapids in 2012 and 2013.
With fast success, the group decided to move the event in 2014 to Walker to take advantage of the space available for a larger group within the community center and arena. It has continued success in Walker ever since.
From 2014 - 2017, the Walker American Legion Post #134 hosted the banquet, along with hundreds of rowdy firefighters, and additionally donated over $2,000 to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation! With the success of the event, and the increased participation, the banquet outgrew the legion. However, the after-party is always still held at this local evening hot spot.
Beginning in 2018, the evening banquet moved to the Chase on the Lake where the entire ballroom space houses the large group, the hallways are lined with silent auction items and full buffet and kids bowl in the nearby bowling alley. The Chase has continued to provide the perfect location for this rambunctious crew.
The event has now grown to over 250 wildland firefighters and their families from Minnesota and nearby states attending and over $35,000 raised annually for the foundation. 2021 will mark the 10th anniversary of Wildfire on Ice.
Wildfire on Ice could not be the success it is without local partners that create the supportive and giving atmosphere. Below are the local Walker organizations that host and support the Wildfire on Ice festivities.