Saranac Lake Winter Carnival features ice palace - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Saranac Lake Winter Carnival features ice palace

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Saranac Lake is tucked into the Adirondacks and is one of the coldest pockets in the North Country. So what do you do when winters are long and frigid? You celebrate them!

It takes an army of volunteers to cut the ice blocks from Lake Flower and assemble them into a palace on the shore every year, but it's work these natives enjoy.

Rob Johnson has been the main ice sculptor for the past three years. He brings this year's under-the-sea theme to life with dolphins and fish tunnels and shell benches that you can sit in. I will say though, you probably won't sit for long on that block of ice, it is cold!

The frozen structure draws visitors from near and far.

Aden's favorite sculpture was the fish!

"Because you can crawl through it!" he said.

This has been a challenging year for volunteers. The palace was mostly complete when temperatures in the 50s last week, weakened and melted the structure. The east wall tumbled down. But as soon as the temperatures fell again, they all got back to work and the palace is solid again in time for the Winter Carnival.

Visitors make it all worthwhile for Johnson, but he says working with lake ice is more challenging than the man-made ice other sculptors usually use.

"The freezer ice is a lot harder," he explained. "When you use this ice, it comes out of the lake, it has plants in it, it breaks apart real easy, you put your chain saw in and you can watch it split to either side like an inch."

But all of the frustrations are worth it! Kids and kids at heart enjoy the ice palace during the day, but the magic really happens when the sun sets! That's when the lights come on, and the ice palace sparkles and comes to life!

But eventually, even in Saranac Lake, the temperatures begin to warm up and the ice palace has to come down before it becomes unsafe. The palace is knocked down and put back into Lake Flower until next year.

Click here for more on the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival.

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