Rain hampers Ice Palace building

SARANAC LAKE – Large portions of the still-under-construction Winter Carnival Ice Palace were draped in tarps Tuesday in an effort to shield the structure from the rain and wind.

Dean Baker, head of the Winter Carnival Ice Palace Committee, told the Enterprise Tuesday evening that workers from village Mayor Clyde Rabideau’s construction company, Rabideau Corp., stepped in to help.

“The mayor got his crew down here, and they tarped the whole thing,” Baker said. “We’re very grateful.”

Baker said tarps have been used before to protect portions of the palace from the weather, but not to this extent.

The move came as a warm front pushed into the area Tuesday night, carrying rain showers, strong wind gusts and temperatures that could hit the mid 50s by this afternoon. The National Weather Service was even calling for a slight chance of thunderstorms today and tonight.

Baker said the wind and the rain are his biggest concerns.

“If it was just a little rain, that’s not bad because it just turns it into one big block of ice,” he said. “But with the wind blowing, it kind of eats holes in it, especially the slush (which is used to hold the ice blocks together).”

This is the second thaw the Saranac Lake area has experienced this month. The first, which also brought rain and 50-degree temperatures, came on the weekend of Jan. 12-13.

Ice Palace workers weren’t able to begin construction until this past Saturday, less than a week before the start of Carnival, as they waited for the ice on Pontiac Bay to reach the necessary 10 to 12 inches in thickness. Since then, however, they’ve been working long days to get the palace built.

“We’re four days in, and we’re moving right along,” Baker said. “On the weekend we had all kinds of help, which was nice.

“The outer walls are done, and the inner walls are done. The big tower is done, but we just have to raise a wall around it. Then there’s some carving and finishing work.”

Baker said he wasn’t planning to work today due to the weather. Inmates from Moriah’s Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility, who’ve helped out the last few days, won’t be back until Thursday, when work on the palace will likely resume.

Asked if he thinks the palace will be ready by the start of Carnival, Baker said, “Yeah – mostly, anyway.”

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or cknight@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.