Ice Sculptures Invade Central Park

        More than 10,000 people bared the bone-chilling weather in Central Park to watch large blocks of ice be chiseled into beautiful, glistening sculptures.

      The sixth-annual Central Park Ice Festival on Feb. 11, attracted large crowds to the Naumburg Bandshell to witness ice carving artists from Okamoto Studio transform more than 6,000 pounds of ice into a replica of one of the park’s statues.

People of all ages crowded around the stage trying to catch a glimpse of the artists working away with their picks and chisels, the buzz of a chainsaw ringing through the space.

      The festivities took place from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and many gathered in the park despite the 26 °F weather and snow covered grounds. Crowds of people tried to squeeze their way to the stage, standing shoulder-to-shoulder like sardines in a can. Despite the lack of space, there were smiles and rosy cheeks all around.

                           Thousands try to squeeze their way towards the Bandshell stage for a glimpse of the ice statues.


        “It’s not as cold as it was yesterday so that’s nice, but I thought there’d be ice sculptures everywhere. They’re just on the stage,” said Sarah Smith, an Upper East Side mom who thought the event would be fun for her kids. “It’s so hard to see anything with all these people here and especially with younger kids. There’s a lot of snow in the park here though so that’s good, came here more for the snow than the ice,” she added with a smile.


         More than 10,000 people found their way to the outdoor amphitheater for the festivities according to Marie Geiger, a volunteer standing to the side with a tally counter.


“It’s only 3:30 p.m., and people still keep coming and coming,” she added, fingers clicking. The event was canceled last year because of high winds.


      Shintaro Okamoto, a second-generation ice sculptor from Alaska, along with other artists from Okamoto Studio, masterfully carved and chiseled away at large blocks of ice to replicate the Alice in Wonderland statue, one of Central Park’s most beloved bronze sculptures. The spectacle, the weekend before Valentine’s Day, is a celebration of Central Park Conservancy’s year-round preservation efforts of the park’s stone and metal statues.

Ice artist carves away at ice with a chainsaw.


        Despite the cold air and crowds of people trying to squeeze their way to a peek of the stage, there was a happy buzz in the air, wide eyes all around, twinkling at the glimpse of the large ice sculptures.


      Solomon Diarra, a 17-year-old photography student, spent his time capturing the high spirits of onlookers.


“My photography teacher told me about this, but I didn’t think there were going to be this many people here, it’s really crazy. I was focusing more on the crowd than on the ice though, a lot of people were smiling,” he said, flicking through his camera.


       A sole ice sculpture reading, “I Love Central Park Conservancy”, stood on the ground further from the stage, collecting crowds of people eager to take selfies with the glistening piece.



                           Small ice sculpture on the ground for people to get a close look at.


    “This is an annual event but my first time seeing it, so it’s pretty cool. There’s a lot of people here, a lot more than I thought there’d be,” said Marcel Arsenault, who was filming the event on his 360-degree camera.   


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