Sunday, December 5, 2021

Ice Castle attraction to Lake George

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

“A frozen fairy-tale world” of Ice Castles is planned for Lake George Village from January through as late as March 2022.

“Weighing up to 25 million pounds each…the castles feature soaring ice towers, shimmering archways, glowing tunnels, glossy walls, roomy caverns and frozen thrones,” touts Ice Castles, a 10-year-old Utah company.

Ice Castles CEO Kyle Standifird at Tuesday’s press conference in Lake George. To his right, Lake Luzerne Supervisor Gene Merlino, who chairs the Tourism Committee, and next to him Lake George Village Mayor Bob Blais. Photo provided by Warren County

“The wonderment, when kids see that ice castle for the first time, that still gets me,” Jarred Henningsen, Vice President of Events, told The Chronicle in advance of a press conference in Lake George Tuesday. “This is definitely great for kids….

“What I tell people is, the Ice Castle is a must-see interactive attraction with cabins, slides, tunnels, crawl-through spaces that everyone will love.”

“Tickets are going to sell fast,” Mr. Henningsen predicted. “We encourage people to purchase in advance.”

Weekend and holiday ticket prices: $28, $22 child ages 4-11. Weekday (Monday to Thursday): $20, $16 child.

Expected dates: January to March, depending on the weather. Tickets go on sale in December.

“Dress warmly. Then get out there and have fun. It’s a very interactive experience, a playful experience with all sorts of designs and features,” he said.

Info: www.icecastles.com/new-york.

The Ice Castles are created “by carefully orchestrating the freezing of water,” said promo materials.

“Nature takes the lead,” Mr. Henningsen said. “It will take three to six weeks to build, depending on the weather. We need an extended period of cold weather.” The design incorporates giant “icicles.”

Mr. Henningsen said they are still completing the design for Lake George. “It will include some surprise features tied to the Lake George area,” he promises.

A team of about 20 “ice artisans,” assisted by 20 to 30 crew they expect to hire locally, will create the Castle, Mr. Henningsen said. “If you like the cold, it’s a good job,” he said. Once up, it will be staffed by about 50 or 60 people “overall.”

The concept began about 12 years ago when founder Brent Christensen built the first one in his backyard for his six children, says the Ice Castles website.

It was such a “huge” neighborhood hit he did it again the next winter, Mr. Henningsen said. In the third year, now 10 years ago, he was invited by a local ski resort to build a castle there — the start of the Ice Castles business.

Castles are also planned this winter in North Woodstock, New Hampshire; New Brighton, Minnesota; Wasatch Mountain State Park in Midway, Utah; Dillon, Colorado; and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Why Lake George? “The town and local businesses were so welcoming. They put together a fantastic opportunity for us,” Mr. Henningsen said.

Warren County provided $50,000 in Occupancy Tax funding to help market the event. Beyond financial incentives, “Gina Mintzer and Joanne Connelly, from the Lake George Chamber and County Tourism were so welcoming, introducing us to the local community,” said Mr. Henningsen.

“It was that welcoming attitude with Joanne and Gina that really made us come to Lake George.”
The Ice Castle is expected to run in conjunction with the 60th annual Lake George Winter Carnival and the second year of the Winterfest promotional program launched by Lake George businesses last year to cope during the pandemic.

January and February are also when regional venues build outdoor “ice bars.”

“We like to work with local businesses,” said Mr. Henningsen in “everything from partnerships, to seeking vendors at the local level,” and in logistics such as renting restrooms and dumpsters — “finding ways to increase their own business through partnerships.”

The Ice Castle will displace two other holiday events — the Holiday Lights and Christkindlemarkt — offered in recent Decembers at the Festival Commons.

Tourism chief: Could be a game-changing year

“Now the Queen (of American Lakes) will have a castle,” said Warren County Tourism Director Joanne Conley, introducing the new Ice Castle attraction to Lake George area businesses on Tuesday afternoon.

She added, “This could be a game-changing year.”

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