By ERICA PENNINGTON, Beloit Daily News
LAKE GENEVA, Wis. (AP) — A little bit of wintertime whimsy is coming to Riviera Beach in Lake Geneva.
Ice Castles, an attraction built completely out of icicles, is getting larger by the day and will open soon.
“Ice Castles was looking for their home in the Midwest, and we believe this partnership will hold really good things,” Joe Tominaro, of VISIT Lake Geneva, told the Beloit Daily News. “It’s going to be epic.”
Lying in the heart of downtown Lake Geneva, Riviera Beach is a favorite gathering spot year-round. The Ice Castles attraction is expected to open on Jan. 10 and draw large crowds.
There are only five other Ice Castles now open. They are in Utah, Minnesota, Colorado, New Hampshire and Alberta, Canada.
“There’s an excitement about town and any time we put something out there online about the ice castles it seems to go viral,” Tominaro said.
Site work on Lake Geneva’s frozen fortress began in September. The Utah native Jesse Stone has been overseeing work on the project.
“We’re kind of like the circus in that we’re a mobile entertainment company,” Stone said. “We will eventually have 70 to 90 local people working with us.”
It took a bit of experimentation to get work started on the sandy beach, Stone said, but Ice Castles began to really rise at the half-acre site in November.
Each cold night since then, water has been sprayed from sprinkler heads installed throughout the castle. The water falls over the top of metal racks and then freezes.
The result is approximately 5,000 to 10,000 crystal clear icicles that are hand-harvested in the morning and then strategically placed to build formations.
“What you see changes every day,” Stone said. “Our goal is to make Ice Castles be like the frozen version of going to Disneyland.”
Once finished, the Lake Geneva ice castle will have tunnels, mazes, fountains and even giant ice slides that are big enough for adults to play on.
About 120 LED lights also have been frozen inside the castle. Anyone who visits the attraction at night will be treated to a beautiful glowing display.
“There’s nothing else like this in the world and it’s really showcasing how beautiful nature is,” Stone said.
Lake Geneva’s castle is now about 10 feet high and is expected to reach as high as 30 to 35 feet by the end of the season.
The outcome depends on Mother Nature, Stone said, noting that visitors might want to visit the attraction a couple times to see how it has changed.
“Running a business like this that is completely nature-dependent really requires a lot of faith; especially considering we’ve seen days with a 42 degree difference between them,” Stone said. “You have to believe.”