SPICER, Minn. - After months of uncertainty, work has officially begun on a super special ice castle for the St. Paul Winter Carnival.
On Wednesday morning, a team of people went to work on Green Lake in Spicer, harvesting 4,000 blocks of ice that measure 44 inches long and 22 inches wide.
The unorthodox process of cutting and moving that much ice is something Gideon Doty knows well.
"I don't have ice in my veins, but it's close," said Gideon Doty, who took over the Wee Kut ice cutting business from his grandfather years ago. "All the tools that I got are well over 100 years old."
Though the conveyor that transports the ice blocks was built back in the 1930's, it is still going strong. So is the help from the rest of the Doty family.
"It's not too cold," said Gideon's brother, Bill Doty.
"I usually sit in Arizona this time of year," said Gideon's other brother, Tim Doty.
But this isn't a usual year. With the Super Bowl coming to the Twin Cities, the St. Paul Winter Carnival tapped Wee Kut to help build an ice palace that would stand out.
"I mean, just think of the people that are going to be coming to town, it's simply amazing," Gideon said.
He would know.
"We did the one 25 years ago too," Gideon said, referring to the then, world-record ice castle he helped create for the Super Bowl in 1992.
This version won't be nearly as big, but they're happy it's happening at all. Several months ago, leaders of the Winter Carnival put plans for an enormous, $5M ice castle on ice. Efforts to raise the funds fell far short, so the project was canceled.
The project got a new life a few weeks ago when donors made it possible to build a smaller, 4,000 block castle.
"This is where we start," said Mike Gutknecht, superintendent for Park Construction, which is overseeing the new castle. "We start putting the blocks on the pallets, and then we load them on trucks. It's still going to be 70 feet tall, with four towers."
But first, it will take three days of cutting and 60 truckloads to transport all that ice from Spicer to St Paul.
"It's an all-of-a-sudden, last-minute deal," Gideon said. "We're going to go for it again, so it's kind of cool."
He says there's only one thing that would make it cooler.
"Obviously... the Vikings are going to play aren't they?" he said.
Construction on the ice palace will begin on Friday, January 5th and will continue for two weeks leading up to the start of the Winter Carnival.
Donations are still needed to help offset the cost of the construction. You can help by sponsoring a block of ice. Find more information here.
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