St. Paul Winter Carnival ice castle ready for 2017

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They build a St. Paul tradition.

After all the heavy lifting inside Rice Park, the ultimate celebration is ready – the 131st St. Paul Winter Carnival.

“A lot of these gentlemen have been working every day for 10-12 hours,” said lighting designer Keith Defreese.

This year, there are 9 towers honoring the king of winter, Boreas. Each block of ice was harvested from the city’s very own Phalen Lake and weighs more than 400 pounds.

“Winter is kind of a thing here, and the milder weather brings a lot of people out,” a visitor said.

Defreese admits to transforming an already beautifully lit park into an energy efficient attraction.

“It is not easy,” he said.

But, for volunteer builders like Tom McCarthy of St. Paul, it’s a labor of love.

“They should expect to have a wonderful time,” McCarthy said.

You can start enjoying the icy escape on Thursday, all the way through Superbowl Sunday.

“Come down here, have a lil’ wine, a lil’ cocoa or hot chocolate, have a couple beers, go down to seventh street, the parade’s going right down to seventh street this year, spend the whole day in St. Paul,” McCarthy said.  “It’s a good time.”

The Winter Carnival is expected to attract more than 250,000 people and generate up to $3 million.

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