EAGLE RIVER, Wis. — It's an ice castle tradition decades in the making.
Firefighters and other volunteers in Eagle River, Wisconsin, are celebrating after completing a masterpiece made of ice. Using 2,000 massive blocks of ice, they created a magical castle in the downtown area of the small, northern Wisconsin city of 1,398 people.
During the four-day project, the Eagle River Area Fire Department and numerous volunteers worked to cut the ice blocks from the frozen Silver Lake nearby. They've got the process down to a science, creating similar ice castles over the past several decades.
Once the blocks are cut and stacked, they're moved downtown where they'll await the construction process. It's important to start with the centerpiece since it's the tallest and will help build up the rest of the structure.
Lights are also added inside as the structure comes together. Then, the workers will begin the process of building up the rows that will make up the walls. They'll use chain saws and other machines to even out the blocks and stack them safely.
Once complete, volunteers turned the lights on to the tower in remembrance of all those that they have lost, both firefighters and volunteers. The department lit the castle purple this year in remembrance of Berklee Adamovich, a 10-year-old girl who passed away from cancer two weeks before Christmas.
It's truly a community-wide project as local businesses donate food and supplies for the volunteers as they work. WFMY News 2's Chad Silber said he remembers, as a child, marveling at the ice castle that attracted visitors from all over the area.
There's no need to be concerned about the ice melting. Temperatures during the construction process hovered around 0 degrees, sometimes even lower.
The castle will stay up until Mother Nature decides when it's time to come down.
The Eagle River Area Fire Department has started a fund to help recoup some of the costs of putting up the ice castle and maintaining the equipment they use to do it. You can donate here.