Fans of ice castles can once again be of good cheer. The St. Paul Winter Carnival will build an icy edifice after all.
Carnival officials announced Thursday they will erect a 7-story, $800,000 ice castle in Rice Park. It’s a reversal from last month, when festival officials announced that a lack of fundraising meant they would not be building a massive, Super Bowl-connected palace as they did in 1992, when the Twin Cities last hosted the NFL’s biggest game.
While the 1992 castle on Harriet Island drew an estimated 2.5 million visitors to St. Paul, its $1.1 million cost helped drive the Winter Carnival into bankruptcy.
Volunteers build ice structures for the carnival every winter. But building a castle on such a large scale requires paying workers to cut and transport the ice and erect it.
After word spread of the carnival’s initial decision to forgo a castle, several sponsors stepped forward to fund a smaller but still impressive palace. Officials on Thursday said they have already raised $600,000 toward the cost. Additional sponsors and individual donors will be asked to chip in to cover the rest.
People can help fund “the People’s Ice Palace” by sponsoring individual blocks of ice, at a minimum of $25 each. The ice-cutting on Green Lake in Spicer, Minn., is expected to begin Jan. 3, with construction to start soon after. To sponsor a block, go to wintercarnival.com.
“We are excited to not only be able to announce plans for the People’s Ice Palace, but to be able to do it in a way that connects with the tremendous support and energy from across the community,” said Dan Stoltz, CEO of Spire Credit Union and chairman of the palace committee.
“People and businesses have been reaching out to help us not only find the right plan for the palace, but to also donate time and money to help make it happen. The Winter Carnival has been a way for the entire community to gather and celebrate winter for 132 years. This ice palace will make the 2018 Carnival even more special.”
The palace will be built on the south side of Rice Park, nearest the St. Paul Public Library, and will be free to the public. Officials said it will feature several towers. Spectators will not be able to go inside the structure.
While officials said plans call for the ice castle to rise up to 70 feet above Rice Park, the final height will depend on funding.