Sunday, Jun 24, 2018
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Zoo thrills and chills

The weekend's events open at 9 this morning with the day-long carving of a monumental ice sculpture in Blade Plaza. Today's highlights also include the return of the Lights Before Christmas, the display of 50 ice sculptures, half-price admission, and the chance to sit on a large throne made of ice and have your picture taken.

Tomorrow opens with a brunch for zoo members at 9 a.m. and for the general public at 11 a.m. (call for reservations and prices). The two-hour amateur ice carving competition starts at 10 a.m., with the high school ice carver contest beginning at 11 a.m. A “carve-off” competition runs from 2 to 6 p.m.

On Sunday, the pros compete at 10 a.m. This competition is one of just a dozen ice-carving qualifying events for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Chad Hartson, owner of Ice Creations in Wauseon, will be one of about 15 people competing in that round.

“The challenge is when you're given a block of ice and three hours to pull out one of your best sculptures,” said Mr. Hartson, 24, who started carving ice about five years ago. “That makes it difficult. It's totally different from working here in my shop, where I can spend 10 to 12 hours on a sculpture. It takes lots of practice. Training lasts all year for most sculptors.”

The sculptors will use serious power tools - chainsaws, die grinders, and angle grinders - to fashion their sculptures. And all will have drilled (so to speak) before they ever reach Toledo.

“Most of the sculptors already have designs picked out and they've already practiced them three or four times before the competition,” Mr. Hartson said.

Not all of the professionals live in this area, said Andi Norman, zoo spokeswoman.

“Since it's a qualifying event for the 2002 Olympics, it will be people from all over the world,” she said.

Mr. Hartson, who did several demonstrations for the zoo in December, expects several competitors from Canada and Japan.

“The Olympics in '98 were held in Nagano, Japan - they're really big into ice carving over there,” he said.

Judges will look for originality, attention to detail, accuracy, proportion, and symmetry, he said.

Meanwhile, the public will be able to watch. Ms. Norman promised that it's worth the trip.

“What's cool is, at the end, they douse the sculpture with water. It makes it crystal clear and sparkly. It's really neat.”

Frozentoesen events start this morning and run until 2 p.m. Sunday. Events include brunches tomorrow and Sunday, ice-carving contests, two showings of the film “Snow Day,” the ice throne display, and an extension of the Lights Before Christmas display. Admission is $3.75 for adults 12 to 59; $2.25 for children 2 to 11 and seniors 60 and older. Admission is free for children under 2. Information and brunch reservations: Call 385-5721.

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