The Ice Palace is built by volunteers, organized by a group informally known as the Ice Palace Workers 101 (IPW 101). The public is welcome to volunteer and roles are assigned based on comfort level, skill and ability.
The construction of the Ice Palace is a community effort by those dedicated to keeping this tradition alive. Volunteers are subject to cold temperatures and inclement weather, all while handling ice and snow.
Modern equipment is used for the heavy lifting, but traditional manual methods are practiced as well, including antique hand saws and ice tongs. Another manual process which is critical to the construction is making slush, a mixture of water and snow. The slush forms the mortar which holds the Ice Palace together. Volunteers fill countless buckets with water, pound in snow, carry it to the palace walls and apply the slush with rubber gloved hands.
The Ice Palace is located adjacent to the Lake Flower State Boat Launch on River Street, in Saranac Lake.
The 10-day Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, February 5 – 14, is a community wide event that traces its roots to a one-day Winter Carnival held in 1897 by the Pontiac Club.
A new event at this year’s festivities will be the Little Ladies’ Fry Pan Toss, on Saturday, February 6 at 12:30 pm at Riverside Park and is open to girls in two groups; ages 8-12 and ages 13-17. Contestants toss a fry pan down a marked course with the furthest throw winning. There is no cost to participate and registration is required at the event between 11 am to noon. The Little Ladies’ Fry Pan Toss will take place before the Taylor Rental Ladies’ Fry Pan Toss at 1 pm which requires registration at the event between 11 am to 1 pm.
Another new event this year is the Arctic Golf Build-an-Obstacle Contest to be held on February 6 between 9 am and 4 pm at Prescott Park. The contest is open to community organizations, businesses or individuals to build a miniature golf obstacle out of snow for the Arctic Golf event the following day. Prizes will be awarded for the three most creative obstacles with first place winning $100 and a Winter Carnival medal, and second and third places winning a Winter Carnival medal.
For more information and contest registration, visit the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival website. Completed registration forms should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by February 1.
Photo of Dean Baker measuring ice thickness provided.