Ice Palace takes shape - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Ice Palace takes shape

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The Ice Palace is a centerpiece for Saranac Lake's Winter Carnival and volunteers started building this year's palace over the weekend.

The structure is made of large blocks of ice which are harvested from Lake Flower. Each block is at least 8 to 12 inches thick and can weigh upwards of 500 lbs. Despite advances in technology, It still takes some hard manual labor to make some final cuts to get these ice blocks out.

Once the blocks are cut, machines are used to bring the ice on land. If the weather cooperates, the number of blocks used can reach into the thousands.

"We started Saturday morning and when we started this morning there was about 1,100. We cut 540 or 560 today and hope to have those set before the moon sets tomorrow morning," said Mark Simkons, a volunteer.

The blocks are set in place with a mortar made from water and snow. The volunteers tell us their hard work is worth the effort. "The rewards are far greater than the effort put out. It's a great sense of camaraderie," Simkons said.

"There's a sense of community in Saranac Lake, a lot of comradery. The community comes together. A couple restaurants provide food. A girl brings hot chocolate in the morning. It's an incredible community," said Margaret Worden, a volunteer.

This year's palace design is expected to measure 70 feet by 45 feet on the inside. Because of its massive size, more volunteers are always needed.

"Well, what I tell everybody is, we're always looking for younger volunteers to come down and give us a hand. Some of us are getting older, like myself, and we'd like to pass on the skills," said Dean Baker, Chair of the Ice Palace Committee.

Volunteers who participate help in any way that they can. "People kick in and do whatever needs doing. And a lot of people here have done it for years, so they see where something needs to be done and they are over there doing it," said Caperton Tissot, a volunteer.

The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival starts Friday and continues until Sunday, February 10th. After the carnival, the castle will eventually be disassembled and the ice put back into Lake Flower.

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