Warm weather forces early closure of Midway Ice Castles

Posted at 9:53 PM, Feb 17, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-17 23:53:40-05

MIDWAY -- On a 50-degree day in February, it feels like winter only exists on one block in Midway.

“We were kind of driving up and we thought, ‘Are we coming to the right place?’ And then all of a sudden we just see this huge structure,” said Kate Holmes.

She was one of hundreds who lined up to see the infamous Midway Ice Castles on Monday, the last chance they will get until next year.  The owners of the exhibit decided to close early this season due to unusually warm weather, which has proved to be problematic.

“It’s shrinking in stature a little bit,” said architect and designer, Brent Christensen.

The melting sculptures made some parts of the site unsafe for visitors. Christensen and his team decided waiting out the warm weather was not worth the risk, and decided to close down about a month earlier than they did last year.

“It’ll be a big pile of snow basically after this week,” Christensen said. “And then it just melts, goes right back in the ground.”

Construction on the castle began in early December and took approximately four weeks to finish. Throughout the season, ice and designs were added, making it one of the largest the crew has done to date.

“It was probably our best one yet,” Christensen said. “It’s always bittersweet. We always hate to close, but we like to go out at the top of the game, so to speak.”

While some of their work has already started melting away, crowds continued to trek through slush to see the castle, many making their first and last visit for the season, until it starts to feel more like winter again, next year.

“I can’t imagine how many hours it took to build all of this,” said Andrea Widdison, who toured the site with friends. “It’s really a labor of love.”