Tearing it down: Wrecking crews storm Edmonton's ice castle

1 / 2
Tearing it down: Wrecking crews storm Edmonton's ice castle

Like all castles made of sand slip into the sea eventually, Edmonton's only fortress of ice and snow is melting away.

The ice castle in Hawrelak park is pulling up the gates on another successful season.

Maintenance on the Narnia-like structure has stopped and it will be allowed to shrink into oblivion — with a little help from a small wrecking crew with Ice Castles LLC.

The castle closed to the public last Monday, and demolition began this week.

"We're tearing it down. Every year, when it comes around to spring time, when we close up we try and get the thing leveled as quickly as possible," said Corey Livingood, site manager for the ice castle.

"It takes a long time for all that ice to go away."

'The weather is always challenge'

The 30,000-tonne "ice wonderland," which covers more than two acres of parkland, was crafted entirely by hand over the course of several weeks.

It's important the frozen fortress is leveled quickly. Leaving the melting structure unattended could pose some safety risks, said Livingood. Without maintenance, the entire structure will become like a skating rink. 

"We have people there 24/7 at the moment doing work and making sure people aren't coming into the castle after it's closed," he said.

"When we are open to the public, we put in about six hours of maintenance every morning to make sure it's safe."

The ice castle was built in partnership with the city as part of the Silver Skate Festival. Organizers hoped the winter spectacle would remain safely frozen until the end of March, but unseasonably warm temperatures earlier this winter put those plans on ice.

"The weather is always challenge. We do our best to deal with it," said Livingood. 

"It was an interesting year because it was both ends of the spectrum, crazy cold and crazy warm, but overall we had a really positive experience."