There was no igloo-building race at this weekend’s Knickerbocker Ice Festival at Rockland Lake State Park, but there might as well have been.
Due to a winter with light snow so far and temperatures in the 40s, there wasn’t much ice at the sixth annual Ice Festival. And mostly all snow had melted by Saturday. Still, at the entrance of the festival there were large piles of snow that groups could use to build igloos.
Rockland Country Day School, of Congers, was one group to sign up to build an igloo, and spent the first few hours of the festival on Saturday to construct one six-plus feet tall.
Kim Morcate, head of the Rockland Country Day School, said she hoped it would make it through the night. Sill, Morcate and the teachers, students and parents building the igloo were just happy to have some snow at all.
“The idea of building an igloo is just unique,” she said. “It’s been such a bad winter in terms of we don’t have any snow really to speak of, so it was just a fun community-building activity and a way to be part of the community.”
Candice Abrams, 13, was in charge of overseeing the igloo construction from inside of it. She was inside the igloo for about two hours and said it got incredibly cold. As the igloo grew in size, to coordinate between the builders inside and outside of the igloo, they talked on cell phones. Morcate said it was the third year the group has participated in the festival.
“The parents and students said we had to come build the igloo again because it was so much fun last time,” she said.
Maria Rodd, Knickerbocker Ice Festival CEO, said once they realized it was going to be snow-light winter, they ordered 18 tons of ice, and then had it crushed up into snow for the festival.
“We knew we were going to have light winter conditions,” she said.
Rodd said a few changes had to be made to accommodate the lack of certain weather conditions and excess of others. Due to some rain during the week, much of the grass was quite muddy, so some attractions had to be moved onto the path instead. Rob Patalano, one of the founders of the festival, sculpted a life-size horse and wagon out of ice during the festival and was one of the few attractions on the grass. Festival organizers placed down thin slabs of wood leading up to his exhibit so people could watch him carve.
Due to the lack of snow, Rodd said they had to cancel two new activities for this year: cross-country skiing and glacier golf. One new edition to the festival that went on as scheduled was an appearance by the Boulder Bird, mascot for the Rockland Boulders.
“We still had a lot of great activities,” she said. “We appreciate people coming out to the festival. Even if we don’t have a lot of snow like in the past, it’s always nice to be able to get outside and walk around a bit during the winter.”
Another area where lack of snow might’ve affected the festival was with the Palisades Interstate Park Commission’s Artists in the Parks art show. The show has been at the last four festivals, and they have artists go out in the park to paint, as well as a sale of paintings by artists, many of which were created in and/or inspired by one of the Palisades parks.
“This weekend we have about 15 [artists at the show] and normally we can get up up to 25 or 30 people,” said Lita Thorne, president of Artists in the Parks. “I guess the snow is keeping everybody away, the lack of snow.”
She added she thinks people like to paint snowy parks a bit more in the winter than muddy ones.
Thorne said the show is a good way to let people know about the group and the artists. They also have their show indoors at the park.
“We’ve got a space that keeps us out of the elements now when it is snowing and it brings people in because it’s nice and warm,” she said. “It’s inviting.”
The ice sculptors also had issues because of the warm weather. In the days leading up to the festival, the sculptures were put on dry ice and kept under wraps. The sculptors also tried to work on them after the sun had gone down.
But even with that, there was still plenty of fun activities for festival-goers. A DJ played music while an MC led kids and adults through dances and games. There was also face-painting, a food tent and a history walk partially around the lake with facts along the way about the history of the lake itself, as well as the Knickerbocker Ice Company. The walk ended at the ruins of an old Knickerbocker Ice House.