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North Pole's Christmas in Ice plagued by frozen equipment, brittle ice

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Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 6:35 am

FAIRBANKS — One would think freezing cold temperatures would be just the thing to kick off ice carving season. Turns out, even ice has its limits.

The 30- to 40-below-zero temperatures that have plagued Interior Alaska for close to a week have taken their toll on ice carving aficionados these past few days. Artists at North Pole’s Christmas in Ice event have dealt with broken tools, snapped electrical cords and even the icy creations seem to be tired of the negative digits.

“One carver, Steve Brice, had his wing on his angel break and had to bring the wing inside to warm it up and glue it together,” said Keith Fye, chairman of Christmas in Ice, the first ice-carving event of the season. “Anytime it gets below minus 20, ice becomes a lot more brittle. When you put a chisel to it, it can crack the wrong way.”

Normally, Christmas in Ice sees approximately 20 carvers converge on North Pole for the holiday-themed event. This year, because of the weather, about 10 have shown up, and most have dealt with some sort of problem with their tools or icy creations.

“Almost every single carver has had cords breaking,” Fye said. “I literally spent eight hours replacing cords on chain saws. It’s just a real challenge with the weather we’re having.”

Despite the slow start to the ice park, organizers expect a joyful turnout for Christmas in Ice.

This year’s ice harvest was a good one, Fye said, and most of the park’s ice slides are in place. In the coming days, volunteers will begin decorating roundabouts with Santa Claus, the reindeer Rudolph and other holiday decorations. The park officially opened on Saturday, and, as is tradition, a visit from Santa is planned, as well as the ringing in of the new year with the official snowflake drop and fireworks scheduled for New Year’s Eve.

A few special events at Christmas in Ice include:

• The BP Day Picnic, which includes free admission and a hot dog picnic-style lunch. Noon to 5 p.m. on Dec. 8. Canned food donations for the Fairbanks Community Food Bank are encouraged, but not required.

• The multiblock ice carving competition Dec. 9-12. This year is the first time Christmas in Ice has hosted a multiblock competition.

• The Petro Star Military Appreciation Day, with a picnic-style lunch noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 15.

• Christmas Day with Santa. The park is open from noon to 6 p.m., with Santa Claus arriving at

1 p.m.

• New Year’s Eve snowflake drop and fireworks display.

• The Christmas train rides are available free Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Call the park to make arrangements in advance for another day of the week.

If you go:

• What: Christmas In Ice

• When: Now through Jan. 6

• Where: The Christmas in Ice Park, 101 Saint Nicholas Drive, is located in the Santaland RV Park, next to the Santa Claus House, in North Pole.

• Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Christmas Eve hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Christmas Day hours are noon to 6 p.m.

• Tickets: Adults $8; children 6-12 $5; children 5 and younger get in free. Wednesdays are senior days, when seniors 60 and older get in for $4. Season passes are $25 for adults and $10 for children 6 to 12.

• Information: visit www.facebook.com/christmasinice or www.christmasinice.org.

Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504 or on Twitter at @FDNMfeatures.

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