Residents of Saranac Lake are getting ready for their annual Winter Carnival, a 10-day festival in the snow, packed with winter sports and activities.
"The winter carnival is the highlight of Saranac Lake's year, and the icon of that is right behind me... the ice palace," Mayor Clyde Rabideau said.
Made completely of ice dug out of the frozen lake, volunteers are working hard to get the ice palace built in time for the start of the carnival. The work in progress is already drawing attention.
"It's huge. It's like something you'd see in a movie. It's just unbelievable," said Joe Dimaio of Buffalo.
Every year the carnival has a theme; this year it is Celtic. So a Celtic castle is being built. The volunteer ice artists say every year is questionable whether they will have a palace for their carnival.
"Last year we were really rushed because of the warm weather. We had to cover it in a tarp to prevent rain from eroding it, but this year it's so cold it's going to be perfect," said Noel Prellwitz, an ice castle carver.
The ice castle is set to be finished right on schedule. Ice sculptors say this is some of the thickest ice they have ever worked with.
"The ice coming out today is about 18 inches thick, it weighs about 600-700 pounds, depending," Prellwitz said.
The first Winter Carnival was held in 1897, making it one of the country's oldest. It started when people wanted a reason to celebrate the middle of winter.
"Get out and enjoy themselves outside with festivities to do instead of being locked up all winter long, give them something else to do. So, that's how it started. So it just progressed from there to now a 10-day festival," said Clyde Baker of Saranac Lake.
And the festival always draws a big crowd to Saranac Lake every winter.
"Everybody comes here, they spend money, they eat out, they have a lot of fun. It's the place to be, Saranac Lake, New York," Rabideau said.
The construction of the ice castle seems to be getting everyone excited for the coming carnival.
"I think it's awesome. It's unbelievable and I've never seen anything like it before," said Abbey Dimaio of Buffalo.
Work will continue on the castle right up until the start of the carnival. And a fireworks display will celebrate its completion.
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