Crews Attempt To Save Ice Castle As Winter Fest Begins

Nick Andriaccio looks on T hursday as a portion of the ice castle is covered with tarps to prevent too much melting. The winter festival begins today in the village. P-J photo by Eric Tichy

MAYVILLE — It’s a castle fit for a king, but it’s Mother Nature who ultimately rules Lakeside Park in Mayville.

Volunteers spent Thursday morning packing snow up against this year’s ice castle iteration, which contains hundreds of blocks of ice from Chautauqua Lake. The castle — a centerpiece for the annual Presidents Day Weekend Winter Festival in the village — was largely completed mid-week.

However, a spike in temperature Thursday forced volunteers to surround the structure with tarps and snow in an attempt to create a refrigerator-like cocoon. The excess snow and tarps will be removed prior to the beginning of the winter festival.

Nick Andriaccio, who has overseen the construction of the Mayville ice castle for many years, said volunteers were hoping to insulate the structure as much as possible while temperatures were expected to fluctuate the next few days. The 31st annual festival runs today through Sunday.

“We’re dedicating this castle to the past and those who made it possible in the beginning,” Andriaccio said at Lakeside Park. “I was here when it first started and took some years off in the middle, but now I’m back at it again.”

Andriaccio pointed to several volunteers who helped get the ice castle built, including Scott Dearing, Don Emhardt, Burl Swanson, Jeff Lang, Ron Miller, John Buxton, Village of Mayville Department of Public Works, Town of Chautauqua Highway Department as well as the businesses that provided lunches during construction.

“A lot of people have put a lot of effort into this,” Andriaccio said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people who made this possible.”

Swanson, another longtime supporter of the winter festival, said it’s up to Mother Nature how the ice castle will hold up. At about 50 degrees Thursday morning, blocks of ice could be seen melting, creating a steady stream of water entering a nearby storm drain.

“It is what it is,” Swanson said. “You do the best you can and hope for the best. No regrets.”

This year’s winter festival will include food and craft vendors, chainsaw carvings and carriage rides. The opening ceremony is scheduled to take place today at 6 p.m. at the ice castle. The festival’s King and Queen will be announced during the ceremony.

On Saturday, there will be a cold water rescue demonstration around 1:30 p.m. with a polar plunge following afterward. A fireworks display will be held at 8 p.m.

A complete list of events can be found at mayvillechautauqua.org.

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