Ice Castle Withstands Cold Siege During Winter Festival

Several activities took place Saturday at Lakeside Park, including a polar plunge and water rescue demonstration. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

MAYVILLE — Despite some concerns, the ice castle made it for the annual President’s Day Weekend Winter Festival at Lakeside Park in Mayville.

Thirty-one years ago the Mayville Winter Festival was created by the Mayville/Chautauqua Community Chamber of Commerce. With it, a traditional ice castle is constructed every year inside Lake Side Park. This year, however, there were concerns the ice castle might not withstand the sporadic weather.

With help from volunteers and various agencies, the warm weather was combatted by encasing the castle in snow in order to keep it frozen.

Debbie Marsala, coordinator for Mayville/Chautauqua Community Chamber of Commerce, said the opening ceremonies began with out any issues.

She gave much praise for the volunteers and construction crews that helped maintain the ice castle.

A wood carving demonstration takes place at the park.

“They saved that castle,” she said.

The process of building the ice castle takes about 10 days, according to Marsala.

Just before the temperature began to spike into warmer ranges, the precautionary measures were implemented.

“(Friday) had beautiful opening ceremonies,” she said. “It’s a gorgeous castle.”

The festival continued on Saturday with various events taking place throughout the day. The main event, the polar plunge, saw community members jump into a freezing Chautauqua Lake for charity. Proceeds from the polar plunge will be given to the Food Bank of Western New York.

Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello looks for warmth after taking a dip in Chautauqua Lake during the polar plunge at Lakeside Park in Mayville. The 31st annual President’s Day Weekend Winter Festival continues today.

Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello took the plunge into Chautauqua Lake as well. Borrello is no stranger to polar plunges, having participating in 12 previous events in other parts of the county.

This year marked the first year the county executive participated in the Mayville Winter Festival.

“I think it’s fantastic to get everybody out here in the middle of Winter to still realize we have great things to enjoy here in Chautauqua County,” Borrello said.

In addition to vendors, a snowball throwing contest and other activities, an ice water rescue demonstration was held on the lake.

Marsala said the annual winter festival is a community event meant for the entire family.

“We do this for our community,” Marsala said. “Our economy is tourism-based, and we have different tourists that come during different seasons … this is the time of the year that it might not be as busy for the businesses so we do this to help our businesses and bring people into the community.”

Marsala said the President’s Day Weekend Winter Festival is always looking for more volunteers; those who are interested should call the Chamber of Commerce at 753-3113.

“We would love more people,” she said.

The winter festival continues today at Lakeside Park in the village.