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Ice melts but carvers push on

Posted: January 22, 2013 - 10:54pm  |  Updated: January 23, 2013 - 9:24am
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Gene Hall carves a block of ice sitting in front of Odies restaurant Tuesday Jan. 22, 2013 in Soldotna, Alaska.    Rashah McChesney
Rashah McChesney
Gene Hall carves a block of ice sitting in front of Odies restaurant Tuesday Jan. 22, 2013 in Soldotna, Alaska.

An eight-foot-tall hockey player sweats outside of Buckets Sports Grill in Soldotna.

Down the Sterling Highway, just outside of Odie’s Deli, Bullwinkle pushed a dog named Odie in a sleigh. They were dripping, too.

“Right now it’s too warm,” said Jene Hall, one of the Bullwinkle-Odie creators. “It’s starting to sweat. It’s not fun right now.”

Hall, 23, and eight other ice carvers had set to the streets Tuesday with chain saws, drills and chisels to carve 25 ice blocks in preparation for this year’s 37th Annual Peninsula Winter Games on the Kenai Peninsula — but the warm weather was making it difficult, the Sterling resident said.

“If it was 10 degrees out I could break Odie’s tongue off and glue it back on,” Hall said.

By “glue” he means freeze, he said, but at 36 degrees it is difficult bonding additional pieces to the ice sculptures, a necessary step for larger sculptures such as the hockey player.

Normally the ice is placed for carving by Jan. 15, said January Yeager, Soldotna Chamber of Commerce project coordinator. But the warm weather and periodic rain has slowed the process. Blocks were still being placed through Monday, she said.

Now the carvers are scrambling to finish their sculptures before the winter games begin, Yeager said.

“They’re working double time,” she said, “working overnight with lights.”

The ice blocks for the sculptures come from a Foster Construction quarry the company flooded.

Yeager said chamber member businesses pay $600 and nonmebers $700 if it is a nonmember for an ice carving. She said it is a way for them to celebrate the winter games while also highlighting their establishment.

“I’ve just always wanted one in front of my business,” Odie’s Deli owner Melodie Symington said. “I’m hoping it will last for a while. The warm weather’s bothering me, though.”


Dan Schwartz can be reached at

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