Ice Palace underway

Workers begin construction of Winter Carnival centerpiece

An Ice Palace worker uses a saw to cut the frozen building blocks free from Lake Flower Thursday morning. In the process of building the Ice Palace, modern techniques are used alongside traditional, manual methods. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

SARANAC LAKE — Construction on the Ice Palace formally began Thursday with the Ice Palace Worker volunteers cutting grid lines in the ice and sawing 200 to 300 blocks.

“We’re cutting ice for the first day,” said Dean Baker, who runs the operation. “Yesterday they put down screws to mark the corners.”

Baker said the crew hoped to lay two or three layers of ice blocks, starting with the towers. He said the ice is pretty good this year — within the last two weeks they got 4 more inches of ice.

“Right now we’re working on getting layout for the main footprint of the build,” said Brandon Phelps, a two-year Ice Palace volunteer.

The IPW committee meets in December to design the palace, which is different every year according to the theme.

One of the first ice blocks to be sawed from the frozen surface of Lake Flower, to be used in the construction of the Ice Palace, seen on Thursday. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

“It’s very hard to build to a theme,” Baker said. “How do you build ‘Prehistoric?’ But we’ve got a pretty good idea.”

The first day of work is done with only a small crew from the IPW — but starting Friday and this weekend, volunteers are welcomed.

Garrett Foster worked on cutting the grid for the blocks, using an old, specialized saw to cut 7-and-a-half inches into the ice, which is a little less than a foot deep itself. He’s volunteered for this job with the IPW for the last 14 years.

Next, other volunteers will come behind and saw the blocks by hand, then free them with push poles. During the construction process, modern equipment is used in tandem with traditional manual methods.

An essential manual process is making slush, the mortar that holds the Ice Palace together. Volunteers will fill buckets with water, pound in snow, and carry it to the palace walls and apply the slush with rubber gloved hands.

Garrett Foster uses an old, specialized saw to cut grid lines for the ice blocks, a job he’s volunteered to do with the Ice Palace volunteers for the last 14 years is seen Thursday morning. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

Interested in helping out? Show up at Pontiac Bay on Lake Flower this weekend.

“Starting January 18, the public is welcome to volunteer and roles are assigned based on comfort level, skill and ability,” a press release from the Winter Carnival Commitee said.

Construction is expected to continue until Winter Carnival, which runs Feb. 1-10.

Dean Baker, far left, directs Ice Palace Worker volunteers in sawing ice blocks to be used in the construction of the Ice Palace Thursday morning. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

Garrett Foster cuts grid lines for the ice blocks that will later be sawed by hand while other Ice Palace volunteers use ice tongs to layout already-hewn blocks on Thursday morning. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

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