Ice Castle to transform into night spot
by Monique Labbe, Sports & Recreation Reporter
Jan 20, 2011 | 2177 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
view slideshow (22 images)
FORT KENT - Volunteers have been working diligently for the past week to transform the parking lot on West Main Street in downtown Fort Kent into a hopping night club to be used during the Biathlon World Cup in February. The club will not just be another building in town, though; it will be made of 400-pound ice cubes.

Those who have passed by the construction zone recently will have noted the clearness of the ice blocks, as well as the blue color emanating from their interiors. While it seems impossible for these giant blocks of ice to have come out of a lake in this beautiful condition, according to Jesse Jalbert, executive director of the Fort Kent Chamber of Commerce, with a little work before the harvesting, this is exactly what happened.

“Before the harvesting, George Dumond, fellow ice harvesting volunteer, and myself went up to Black Lake and shoveled off the snow at least once a week so that the ice would stay clean,” Jalbert said in a phone interview on Monday afternoon. “We weren’t expecting the ice to come out that clear, but it has been. We’ve been pretty lucky.”

While the blocks of ice are not “see through,” they have developed a blueish color that Jalbert is particularly excited about. “The color adds character to the blocks, and when its all up and finished, I think it will look pretty great.”

In order to keep the blocks in tact throughout the building process, “slushy” snow has been inserted between the blocks, creating a mortar to hold the ice together. Builders are also using water to smooth everything out.

“We were supposed to use torches to heat the edges so that when it froze, it would freeze together, but that wasn’t really working out,” said Jalbert. “This system seems to be working much better.”

The ice castle, which will be ready by the time the international spotlight begins to shine on the small town, will be the center of entertainment during the World Cup festivities, and when the sun goes down and the lights come on inside, West Main Street will have its own version of an igloo for everyone to see.