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Published: Friday, 1/3/2003

Icy chills and thrills heat up Toledo Zoo


You want a 10-foot-high Ohio bicentennial logo - made of ice? No problem. How about a life-size ice rhinoceros? Ditto. Forty people who have chain saws and aren't afraid to use them? Covered.

The Toledo Zoo's Frozentoesen Ice Fest begins today, and offers all these things and more during its run, which ends Sunday.

After the conclusion of the fest, Frozentoesen, which offers zoo visitors reduced-rate admission and winter-oriented films and activities, continues through the end of February.

The ice fest starts the two-month period with ice-carving contests, free showings of the movie Ice Age, a “monumental” ice sculpture marking the new African Animal Carousel, and the last chance to see the zoo's spectacular “Lights Before Christmas” exhibit before the plug is pulled.

As for the aforementioned rhinoceros, people can sit on it and have their photos taken. Ice games involving a football throw, hockey goal, and basketball hoop will be available.

Additionally, zoo hours are extended to 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. all weekend.

Last year's ice fest attracted about 18,000 people, said Andi Norman, the zoo's public relations manager.

For many, the carving contests particularly provide a dramatic spectator sport. Carvers use chain saws, chisels, and blowtorches to cut, melt, and sculpt their crystalline creations.

Contests, held each day, include: Dueling Chainsaws tonight at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30; high school and amateur competitions during the day tomorrow; and a professional carver event Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m.

Demonstrations of the art will take place tomorrow at 6, 7, and 8 p.m.

Among the professionals will be Roy Calo of Eastpointe, Mich., one of last year's contenders. With just minutes before the arrival of the judges, one of his sculpture's limbs fell off, a victim to the day's rising temperatures.

The incident ended his hopes of competing in last year's Winter Olympics. But these days, the 46-year-old chef is philosophical about it.

“With ice, you just let it go,” Mr. Calo said.

He's not sure what he'll create on Sunday.

“I have about six designs in my mind,” he said. “It depends on how cold it is - or how warm it is.

“I'm into insects this year, so maybe a dragonfly, or a fire ant. Or a couple of human figure designs - a lady warrior, an Indian chief.”

The Frozentoesen Ice Fest is today through Sunday at the Toledo Zoo, 2700 Broadway. Admission is $4.25 for adults, and $2.75 for children 2-11 and people over 60. Children younger than 2 are admitted free.

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