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Fairbanks' Ice Park prepares for opening

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Posted: Monday, February 4, 2013 12:05 am | Updated: 6:30 am, Tue Feb 5, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — In three weeks, Ice Alaska will open its gates for the 24th consecutive year for the 2013 BP World Ice Art Championships, featuring the largest ice art competitions and exhibitions worldwide.

Slabs of high grade ice harvested on site at O’Grady Pond Too, attracts ice artists from around the world to participate in the month long celebration, Feb. 26 to March 31.

This is the second year the ice competitions and exhibitions are being staged at the new ice park on Phillips Field Road west of Peger Road.

The trailers are gone and it’s no longer a construction site, said Dick Brickley, Ice Alaska chairman.

Ice artists volunteers are expanding the Kids Park, he said. The emphasis is on exercise.

“We have 150 activities for children this year. We’re trying to make them as interactive as possible.”

There will be a Slide-a-Mile contest for children using the ice slides.

Each of the park slides will be posted with information as to the slide’s length that can be calculated and totaled.

Unfortunately, there is no credit for the run-out, Brickley said, just the slide’s length.

Children who meet the challenge of sliding a mile will get a certificate signed by Gov. Sean Parnell.

By Nov. 15, all Single-Block Classic teams were signed up for this year’s competition and there is a waiting list.

“We are waiting on some visas,” Brickley said, “and if they are issued,” we’ll have room for them.”

Twenty teams will participate in the Multi-Block Classic competition.

There also is a Youth Classic competition and an Amateur Open exhibition.

Sunday afternoon, Rikki Homchick was testing thousands of small, colorful LED lights that will line the sides of the ice slides, a favorite of the younger crowd.

This is Homchick’s 13th year volunteering at Ice Alaska.

“We’re trying to eventually go completely with LED lighting,” said the Air Force retiree.

LED lights are 1/20th the cost of regular lights and offer a lot more control, Homchick said.

“I can control and mix colors with it,” he said, while displaying two phone photos to show the lighting differences.

Across town, Tom Ertl, who designed and engineered the Ice Park train which is available on weekends for 30-minute tours of the ice sculptures, is upgrading the engine.

This year Ertl is building a new train with a real train engine and a 28-foot enclosed car that will carry 40 passengers. Tickets will be $1 per tour.

Ice sculpting classes led by ice artist, Julio Martinez, are continuing this month and through March at the Ice Park. Quick classes are offered daily, and regular classes are offered every Saturday. Hot drinks and tools are provided. Class descriptions and costs vary.

The Ice Park will be open daily 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Feb. 26 to March 31, at Phillips Field Road West, off Peger Road. For more information, call 451-8250 or 388-1658, or visit www.icealaska.com.

Contact staff writer Mary Beth Smetzer at 459-7546.

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