Dillon Ice Castles to open Saturday
The Dillon Ice Castles will open Saturday, Dec. 19, inviting guests to once again make their way to the Dillon Town Park to view the fourth iteration of the frozen attraction.
The castles initially were scheduled to open Dec. 26, but officials said favorable weather conditions have set the table for an early unveiling.
“Mother Nature was nice to us this year, so we were able to get the castle open earlier then expected and hopefully make a lot of people happy this Christmas,” said Melissa Smuzynski, a spokesperson for Ice Castles.
In recent months, crew members have been on scene placing thousands of icicles to construct the castles, which are sprawled over an acre of the park and complete with tunnels, fountains, slides and towers embedded with colorful lights.
Smuzynski said the attraction initially would open at about 30% of its normal capacity in order to meet public health guidelines and promote physical distancing among guests but that limitations could change throughout the season if there are alterations to state or local restrictions.
“We really want to remind people to take COVID precautions,” Smuzynski said. “Masks will be required, and we really would like our guests to bring their own masks with them. We also just want to encourage everyone to come only with members of their immediate household and to practice social distancing while in the castle. Our limited capacity should make that really easy to do.”
With the attraction ready to open, officials with the town of Dillon also are finalizing their plans to try to minimize impacts to locals in surrounding neighborhoods. At the Dillon Town Council meeting earlier this week, Dillon’s Marketing and Communications Director Kerstin Anderson presented a new parking plan meant to better communicate appropriate parking locations to visitors.
Anderson said there are 247 parking spaces adjacent to the park and along Lake Dillon Drive, along with an additional 200 spots available in rotating overnight lots in the town core. The town is planning on placing “no event parking” signs at strategic locations like Tenderfoot and La Bonte streets to keep guests out of residential areas, and other signs pointing to preferred parking lots on Buffalo Street and Lake Dillon Drive.
An interactive map also will be available for guests on the Ice Castles and town of Dillon websites showing where parking is allowed and prohibited, along with highlighting local businesses to try to encourage guests to visit shops and restaurants while they’re in the area.
“A particular focus this year is establishing a parking communication plan to mitigate traffic impacts of tourism,” Anderson said. “We worked with Ice Castles, and we have created this map … that has a particular focus on creating no access areas in that low residential zone and driving people along Lake Dillon Drive into the parking associated with the Town Park.”
While officials are ready for the opening, some members of the community are still pushing back against the attraction, in particular ongoing discussions between Dillon and Ice Castles on a potential long-term contract to keep the amenity at Town Park for the coming years.
Sean Butson, a representative with the Dillon Neighborhood Coalition, said the group opposed any sort of long-term agreement with Ice Castles. In a letter Butson read to the Town Council, he said the economic impact locally from the castles was extrapolated from only a small number of survey respondents and was likely much less beneficial than believed.
“I have not heard any reason to support the Ice Castles’ five-year agreement in the Town Park except for the supposed huge financial benefit,” Butson said. “As I have illustrated, that is not the case, and in fact the Ice Castles’ operation is a financial detriment to the town core as compared to other towns. Accordingly, what reason could there be to support it?”
But Ice Castles is here for at least the 2020-21 winter and confident that they’ll again be able to provide community members and visitors with a unique and wondrous experience.
“We’re really excited to be returning to the town of Dillon again this season,” Smuzynski said. “We’re confident it will be a really great season even with the pandemic. We think that our guests will practice responsibility, as will we, to keep everyone safe and still provide a magical time.”
Tickets are available beginning Friday morning at IceCastles.com/Colorado.
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