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Published: Sunday, 1/8/2006

Zoo crowds warm to Frozentoesen

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Ice sculptor Chad Hartson helps kick off the sixth annual Frozentoesen with a demonstration of his skill with the chain saw. Ice sculptor Chad Hartson helps kick off the sixth annual Frozentoesen with a demonstration of his skill with the chain saw.
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Pete Rodriguez picked up a trick yesterday at the Toledo Zoo he says he'd like to try next time he builds a snowman.

But since it involves a chain saw, the 8-year-old Oregon boy probably won't get to try it out anytime soon.

The boy seemed mesmerized by ice sculptors as they used a chain saw, other power tools, and a propane torch to delicately slice and melt away chunks of ice from two seven-foot blocks.

"The chain saw was the coolest part," Pete said - nearly covered in ice shavings that had whirled up and then settled on his heavy winter coat.

The zoo kicked off its sixth annual "Frozentoesen" yesterday with an ice-carving demonstration, animal feedings, and the Czechoslovakian Black Light Theatre show. Frozentoesen runs through the end of February and is geared to attract visitors to the zoo during the colder months.

The zoo had 746 visitors yesterday. Spokesman Andi Norman said the figure was good for "a damp, cold January day."

Pete Rodriguez, 8, doesn't mind the ice shavings as he leans in for a close look as Chad Hartson works his chain-saw magic. Pete Rodriguez, 8, doesn't mind the ice shavings as he leans in for a close look as Chad Hartson works his chain-saw magic.
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With the temperature dipping just below freezing, the crowd that gathered outside for the ice sculpting was thin, but the artists welcomed the cold weather.

Chad Hartson, a world champion ice sculptor from Napoleon, chose to carve two seven-foot-tall swordfish out of the 2,400 pounds of ice he brought for the event.

"If it starts to rain, they are going to melt pretty quick," he said. "Next week, we might do an eagle, and I think we will do a giraffe in a couple of weeks."

Mr. Hartson, who has been sculpting ice professionally for seven years, will be at the zoo each Saturday during Frozentoesen.

The animal feedings and black light shows will occur on both Saturdays and Sundays.

The big attractions yesterday were the feedings of the polar bears, sharks, and the orangutan. More than a hundred people crowded together to see the zoo's male polar bear, Marty, swim after and catch live trout.

"This is an opportunity to see animals behaving in a way you never see except for on television," said Liz Hartman, volunteer program assistant for the zoo.

The Czechoslovakian Black Light Theatre, a group that combines puppetry, pantomime, dance, special lighting, and music, performed in the zoo's Indoor Theatre. During the show, puppeteers dressed entirely in black seem to disappear against a black backdrop while their puppets seem to float in midair. The group performs weekends through the end of March.

Jarod Schriner, 7, of Maumee came away from the show amazed. "It really seemed like the animal puppets were just floating," he said.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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