LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – It’s been no secret that visitors to Lake George’s new Ice Castles feature have enjoyed themselves. On Wednesday, though, it was the turn of the locals and representatives to celebrate the village’s icy attraction.
A crowd gathered by Elizabeth Little Boulevard on Wednesday had a lot to celebrate. Between opening day Sunday and the scheduled season to come, Ice Castles Lake George has sold over 57,000 tickets in just a single week since they went on sale. And the locals who have been around during the winter have some idea what all of those visitors are in for.
“If you haven’t been here – if you haven’t passed it in the last couple of weeks at night, when the lights go on – it’s phenomenal,” said Lake Luzerne Town Supervisor Gene Merlino. “People park here every night.”
Merlino kicked off a brief ceremony in front of the entrance to Charles R. Wood Park, which is home to Ice Castles in its inaugural winter in the village. Visitors included New York State Senator and Queensbury native Dan Stec, a representative from the office of State Assemblyman Matthew Simpson, and Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce President Mike Bittel.
The words from all parties were ones of welcome, and thanks for the winter business, to the minds behind the craft of turning over 12,000 icicles into a castle to explore, take photos in, and make memories throughout. Those words were received by the architect of the over 25-million-pound structure.
“You guys have been so supportive of us. All the locals have been so supportive of us,” said Joe Weiler, architect of the Lake George Ice Castles attraction. “We had a slow start this season, with the weather, but once it turned on, everyone coming up to the fence and cheering us on really kept us going.”
Ice Castles Lake George was the last of the company’s five attractions – across five states – to open this winter. Building the castle took around 8 weeks, with icicles hand-grown, harvested, and put in place as the castle was built.
On Wednesday, that work was rewarded. Weiler cut a ribbon, held by representatives from the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce, welcoming the castle for the season. Opening day was on Sunday, and the castle is set to stay open until the ice starts to melt, when it will flow into nearby Lake George.
The goal for the Lake George castle was to sell 90,000 tickets over the course of the season, with the 57,000 marker announced on Wednesday getting over halfway there. In order to keep that momentum going, Ice Castles has added more tickets and open dates. Additionally, next Wednesday, Feb. 2, is locals night, where Warren County residents can get in for just $5. Tickets can be ordered through the Ice Castles website.
In addition to speechmakers, some area locals also gathered around on Wednesday to hear welcoming words for the castle. One resident sees the destination as a place to bring his own community together.
“I run a social group for people with disabilities,” said Andrew Paolano, visiting from Queensbury. “About 40 or 50 people come, with all kinds of disabilities. They come from Saratoga, Washington County, all over the Capital Region. I’m hoping some night to do this with them.”
In 2021, Paolano, an adult with Asperger’s, raised money locally for the Upstate New York Autism Alliance. An event like Ice Castles is huge for communities like his own, and as a local, he’s just as dazzled by it as those coming from far away are. He thinks the rest of his group will feel the same.
“I think it’s just really cool in our backyard,” he said. “We don’t really have much in the wintertime. We’re more of a summertime tourist destination, and it’s just great to have something in the winter like this.”
Ice Castles won’t be Lake George’s only winter attraction this season. This weekend marks the kickoff event for the 60th annual Lake George Winter Carnival, which will fill the village with further traffic all through February.