Crew Chisels 16,000 Pounds of Ice into Blu Ice Bar

Updated: 12/18/2013 10:43 PM
Created: 12/18/2013 4:52 PM
By: Maarja Anderson

Cold and snowy weather has many of us wanting to cozy-up indoors, but a bar north of Two Harbors may have you thinking twice this holiday season. The Blu Ice Bar is under construction for its fourth year at Grand Superior Lodge.

Ice can be your best friend and it can be your worst enemy at the same time," said Chris Swarbrick, owner of Ice Occasions and lead carver on the project.

Swarbrick and his crew are turning 16,000 pounds of ice into a bar made for the world's best athletes.

"Each year [we have] a different theme. This year, of course, we have the Olympic theme with the Sochi Olympics coming up," explained General Manager Chuck Paton.

Under the tent is a bob sledder, skiers, snow boarders, and even a mini curling rink.

"We're trying to incorporate some sports that are local to the area here and are also part of the Olympics," said Swarbrick.

It's a work of art that takes a little patience and precision, because as Swarbrick says, ice can be finicky.

"It can't be warm, then it melts. If it gets too cold it will shatter. A little heat, a little bit of water, and it will completely shatter into pieces," he said.

It also takes a lot of tools. They start with a chainsaw to make the basic shapes. Then they use familiar tools like chisels and sanders. They also use tools like nail boards that flatten and level ice.

This is their third and final day of carving. It's a work in progress but come Saturday, the tent will be draped in fabric, the ice will be lit up, and the guests will be sitting on fur.

"They come in and they just love the uniqueness of it... sitting on a block of ice, and to be able to say you did it," said Paton.

The Blu Ice Bar opens Saturday at 5 p.m. Paton said the lodge has plans to keep the bar open through the second weekend in March.

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