Ice castles skipping Summit County this year
Ryan Summerlin October 1, 2012
The ice castles attraction that got its start in Silverthorne last winter won’t be coming to Breckenridge this winter as initially planned.
Owners of the ice castles say they’re concerned about how roughly 20 million pounds of ice will affect the asphalt in the parking lot in downtown Breckenridge where the attraction was supposed to set up shop this winter.
“We are totally bummed,” co-owner Ryan Davis said. “We were really excited about Breckenridge and tried to figure out a bunch of ways we could make it work, but when it came down to it, there’re some things about that site that we’ve never tried before.”
The town council recently approved the attraction for the Tiger/Dredge Lot, a small, but central location in the core of Breck.
The smaller size of the site presented a challenge for the castle as well.
The owners will construct the 2,000-ton icicle labyrinth on an older parking lot at the Mall of America in Minneapolis instead this winter. It will be a test run for the attraction on asphalt, Davis said.
“We’ll be able to tell what it does,” he said. “If there’s damage to that parking lot, it wouldn’t be nearly as large of an impact.”
The castles were constructed on a grassy space in Silverthorne last year, which had to be re-sodded at the end of the season.
Breckenridge officials say they’re sorry not to be hosting the ice castles for the coming winter.
“We’re disappointed, but we appreciate their wanting to understand the physics of a million gallons of ice and snow on top of our asphalt,” Mayor John Warner said. “It’s tons of weight and so that will be good to know what their success or failure is elsewhere. We appreciate their honesty.”
The council voted unanimously to allow the castles to be constructed in Breck when owners approached them for approval earlier this year. But they decided not to allow the attraction to be constructed on the Riverwalk Center lawn as the owners requested, expressing concerns that the lawn would be severely damaged or might not be ready for the town party in June.
“The timing just wasn’t working for doing it on that area,” Warner said. “The Tiger/Dredge Lot is one of our most under-utilized parking areas, so we thought that would be a good spot for it.”
With town approval, the ice castles might return to Breckenridge next winter.
“I can’t say we will be back,” Davis said. “That’s really up to the town, but we’ll definitely apply again to bring the ice castles to Breckenridge. There’s no question on that.”
The owners have said they prefer Breckenridge to Silverthorne as a home for the castles, partially because of the climate considerations. The entrance of the attraction had too much exposure to the sun in its first winter. It ultimately had to be closed early due to unusually warm spring weather.
The castles attracted 70 percent of its business from the Front Range last winter, drawing many people up for the sole purpose of seeing the winter attraction.