Pretend Ice Palace builder

Enjoying the hard work of the Ice Palace Workers — Local 101. (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

Every year I get all the emails from the Ice Palace Workers-Local 101 (IPW). I requested to be on the list to help build a palace. I always intend to make this be the year to put on my winter gear and make some Carnival magic.

The emails encourage everyone to come together and be part of something unique. It rounds up incredible people willing to brave the elements to build a temporary structure that makes other people happy.

Let’s be clear — I never show up with astonishing regularity. I am not part of this group, but I dream of being part of it. I check my calendar with the best intentions, but I still sit in my cozy house while someone else wears rubber gloves placing slush between ice bricks to stabilize a frozen wall.

We all know raising a hand and doing the work are very different things. These volunteers may not be saving lives. Instead, they inspire dreams. They show up in the worst weather to fix, repair, break and rebuild a weather-dependent structure.

I’m going to contemplate my misdeeds over a cup of hot tea while scrolling through photos of others at the palace site, the ones who actually show up. I remain grateful to all the volunteers who continuously get out of their toasty beds to walk on a frozen lake, cut blocks of ice, sculpt statues and build walls to create a palace for everyone to enjoy. I would list all the jobs and thank each individual, but I don’t know all the volunteers or their positions. (Because I am an Ice Palace builder wannabee.)

Of course, there will constantly be rumbling from those armchair ice palace builders now that the palace is complete. (A reminder that the reason it’s finished is because of a “call to arms” for early morning and late evening shifts under extreme weather and a tight deadline). Someone will always think the Palace needs to be bigger, needs to be taller, or it’s too icy and too cold. I think it is flawless.

I count Saranac Lake lucky to have plenty of people willing to make space in their lives to build a palace out of ice. As it is every year, it is magnificent. My future self still believes I’ll volunteer. My present self continues to admire everyone else’s hard work from a warmer vantage point. Thank you, IPW, for ensuring this Ice Palace remains an annual tradition. Let the games begin!


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