Building castles of ice

LAKE GEORGE This weekend, visitors to the Lake George Winter Carnival will see the facade of an ice castle in Shepard Park, complete with an arched entryway and a heart shaped bench. But how did these frozen masterpieces appear in the village? Earl Covington, owner of Ice Art from Mamaroneck, has been in the business of creating frozen sculptures for 20 years. I brought all the pieces up from my shop, Covington said. The blocks he referred to were 100 blocks of ice, each weighing 300 pounds. Theyre each milled before they leave the shop so theyre all 10 inches thick, he said. Covingtons business includes heavy duty refrigerated trucks to transport his icy cargo. He tries to bring his truck full of blocks as close to the project as possible, and uses hydraulic lifts to remove the blocks and place them. Covington said that the first course, or layer, of ice on the ground is wider than the rest of the sculpture since it is the base. The challenge then is to make sure its level, he said. Here on Canada Street, were working on a downhill slope, so its off by about four inches. As Covington places his blocks layer by layer, he seals them with water taken from the lake, which freezes to make a tight seal. Its just like mortar with bricks, he said. I lock it in place by putting the next block over a joint. As he built the castle, Covington had to put in fillers to keep it level because of the grade. As cold as it would seem, Covington said he is so busy working with chainsaws and other tools, that he keeps warm while he works. I only get cold when I have to stop and talk to reporters, he said. Just kidding. Covington said he has won 45 trophies and other medals in ice sculpture competitions over the years, including second place in the world competition in Fairbanks, Ala. in 1997. That one was special because I won second place, he said. In addition to the ice castle, Covington built a bench just inside the archway for families to take photos. He also built the ice slide in Shepard Park that is enjoyed by so many kids during the carnival.

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