Ice Palace builders hope to start Monday

SARANAC LAKE – Construction of this year’s Winter Carnival Ice Palace is tentatively scheduled to get under way Monday.

Dean Baker, head of the Winter Carnival Ice Palace Committee, told the Enterprise Tuesday that the weekend thaw, which brought rain and 50-plus-degree temperatures to the area, weakened the ice in Lake Flower’s Pontiac Bay, but he’s hopeful that the return of cold weather this week will improve things.

“I was just down and checked the ice conditions, and unfortunately the ice is still in layers with water between them,” Baker said. “But this current week is getting colder, and that’s going to help a lot. We plan to start on Monday, but that depends on the thickness of the ice.”

Ice Palace builders typically like to wait until the ice is a foot thick before they start work. Baker said in some places he checked, the ice on Pontiac Bay is as little as 1 inch think; elsewhere it’s as much as 10 inches thick, although it’s not solid.

“You can walk on it safely, but if you tried to cut it, it would just fall apart on you,” Baker said.

Baker said the design of the palace will match the “Under the Sea” theme of this year’s Winter Carnival.

“It will have a few towers, a few walls, wavy walls, and the lighting this year, if we get to do it, should be spectacular,” he said. “It’s going to imitate waves. We’re going to have a raised platform again, and an open front so you can see in. It should be good if we get to build it.”

Inmate work crews from the state’s Moriah Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility, who’ve helped build the palace the last few years, will be back again this year, Baker said.

The 116th Saranac Lake Winter Carnival runs from Feb. 1 to 10. For more information, visit