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The Eagle River Ice Palace is Back For The New Year

It's a sight right out of a fairy tale. The Eagle River Area volunteer-based Fire Department is continuing a nearly century-old tradition of constructing a castle completely made of ice.

"It kind of looks like Cinderella's ice castle at Disney World," said young ice castle visitor, Maya Miller.

The fire department has been volunteering their effort to building the palace since 1987, but it was first constructed in 1933.

"For us it's sort of like a pay back to the community," said Deputy Chief Jim Bonson. "They support us financially with the fire department on our budget and that. We know it's a big draw especially up here during the winter with the ice castle."

However, the castle has not been put up for the past two years due to warm weather.

"The ice, just hasn't been thick enough. We need at least 12 inches of ice to make it work. This year we're running almost 15 inches," said Bonson

This year, building is right on schedule to be completed by New Years.

Today's temperature was about 30 degrees in that area, making building not quite as simple as if it was about 10 degrees colder. The blocks are held together with water that then of course freezes, so colder temperatures would freeze the water faster. About 2,400, 70 pound, 14-inch blocks were cut out of the lake and individually laid in place. Builders even got detailed with tower toppers. Four more towers and some walls will complete the palace structure. Crews are using much of the original equipment from 1933, as well as a newer mechanical shaver designed especially for the castle's construction.

"It makes building, for the guys that are doing the building, go a lot faster," said Fire Chief Patrick Weber. "Then it's almost like laying cement blocks and boom, boom, boom they're all standard size."

Trees, wreaths, lights, and a thrown fit for winter royalty will fill the fantasies of young lords and ladies. Miller said she felt like a princess and so did little Sara Sykes.

"I want to sleep in the castle like a princess and do like sleeping beauty," she said.

You can go see this winter wonder in eagle river near highway 70 and interstate 45.

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