Castle on the rocks: Spicer Ice Castle demolished early because of public safety concerns
SPICER — A jumbled pile of mammoth blocks of ice — some shattered into jagged shards — is all that remains of the stately 20-foot Spicer Ice Castle that had been the focal point of a lighting ceremony and fireworks show Saturday night on Green Lake that drew hundreds of onlookers.
Constructed Jan. 7-8 with about 500 blocks of Green Lake ice that weighed about 600 pounds each, the castle at Saulsbury Beach was intended to be a feature throughout the Spicer Winterfest activities, including the Polar Plunge and the pond hockey tournament coming up Saturday.
Warm weather is to blame.
"We had unseasonably warm weather and the structure was unsafe," said Michelle Olson, president of the Spicer Commercial Club.
A backhoe was used Monday to demolish the structure.
"It's a bummer," Olson said.
Problems became evident about a week after the castle was constructed when volunteers were stringing lights inside the structure following a couple 40-degree days, said Todd Erickson, a member of the Spicer Commercial Club board of directors.
"Working in a drip zone was a little bit unnerving," he said.
By the middle of last week, the outer wall of the center tower "was starting to lean forward" and "the integrity of the structure was being compromised," Erickson said.
On Friday afternoon, several large blocks "toppled to the ground" close to where people had previously been taking pictures, he said.
The structure was shored up and caution tape and signs were placed around the perimeter of the castle to keep the public away from potential danger during Saturday's celebration.
Although the temperature dipped down again, Erickson said the decision was made to raze the ice castle Monday out of concern for public safety.
"Obviously we are disappointed," he said, but the committee is thankful the castle held together through the lighting ceremony.
Erickson said the early demise of the ice castle won't affect excitement about the long list of Winterfest activities scheduled through the middle of February.
"There are plenty of things going on," he said. "Our enthusiasm hasn't melted away with the ice castle."