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DL Ice Palace site moved to city beach: GoFundMe account set up to help finance January ice harvest, palace construction

This is the concept design for the Detroit Lakes Ice Palace that was created by local artist Hans Gilsdorf, who says the estimated 24x60x30 foot structure will take approximately 1,600 blocks of ice to create. That means about a half acre of ice will need to be harvested from Little Detroit Lake for the structure, which will be built on the city beach near the Pavilion. (Drawing courtesy of Hans Gilsdorf/DL Ice Harvest Committee)

When plans for Detroit Lakes to supply the ice for a record-breakingly huge St. Paul Winter Carnival Ice Palace were put in the deep freeze last month, the local Ice Harvest Committee decided to proceed with its own plans for a smaller-scale ice palace right here in DL — as the centerpiece of the community's February celebration of all things winter, Polar Fest 2018.

"It's a huge opportunity for Detroit Lakes," says Ice Harvest Committee member Amy Stearns, referring to all the national media attention that will be focused on Minnesota in the coming months, as the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul prepare to host one of the world's largest sporting events, the National Football League's Super Bowl LII.

With the plans for DL's own ice palace and its attendant lake ice harvesting project now beginning to take shape, a GoFundMe account and Facebook page have been set up to help promote and finance the project.

"We're so excited to announce the launch of our GoFundMe page for the Detroit Lakes Ice Palace project," said Tiffiny Walz, another Ice Harvest Committee member. "It's a great way for the community to jump in and show its support."

"We've had so many calls from people who want to support this project," Stearns added, noting that while there has been a surge of in-kind support in the form of donated equipment and materials as well as many hours of volunteer effort put into planning and implementation, more is needed. "We do need financial support. There are hard costs involved."

Local artist Hans Gilsdorf, who is the lead designer on the ice palace project and has also been on the Ice Harvest Committee since its inception, says that there will be a need to store the ice harvesting equipment and tools, as well as the tools and materials for construction of the ice palace.

"We have to take into account that we'll potentially be working in subzero temperatures," Gilsdorf noted.

Though the harvesting of the ice itself will be on a much smaller scale — the 1,600 blocks of ice needed to create the estimated 24x60x30 foot structure will take place over two days, Jan. 11-12, instead of the several weeks needed to harvest and transport the estimated 24,000 blocks of ice that they were told would be needed for the St. Paul palace.

Because the ice harvest itself has been scaled down considerably, and the equipment needed to haul all that ice out of the lake and onto trucks for transporting it to the Twin Cities is no longer necessary, the committee has also decided to relocate the site for the palace.

"Due to St. Paul bowing out of the project, and the logistics and costs involved in moving the ice to Peoples Park, we're going to build the palace right on the beach, next to the ice harvest site," Walz said.

And the location of the palace near the Pavilion will also make it much more visible, Stearns added.

"The hope is that people will be able to drive right down Washington Avenue and see this beautiful ice palace at the end," she said of the location right at the point where Washington Avenue becomes West Lake Drive and curves west along the shoreline.

Gilsdorf said that the public is more than welcome to come down to Washington Avenue and watch the proceedings as well.

"We encourage people to come down and watch the first ice harvest in Detroit Lakes since the 1970s," he said, adding that the Becker County Museum will be hosting an exhibit inside the Pavilion during the ice harvest, detailing Detroit Lakes' long history of harvesting lake ice.

"And as soon as the ice is harvested, Hans and his crew will begin building the ice palace," Stearns added, noting that the project would take approximately three weeks to complete.

"People are more than welcome to come down and watch that too," Gilsdorf added, noting that it will be the first structure of its kind — a palace built entirely of ice — to be constructed in Detroit Lakes.

The "grand lighting ceremony" and official opening of the Detroit Lakes Ice Palace is scheduled to take place on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 8 — which also happens to be the kickoff of Detroit Lakes' 12-day celebration of all things winter, Polar Fest 2018 (visit for details).

But before any of that happens, the committee needs to get the financing for the project finalized: They are seeking to raise $25,000 via the GoFundMe campaign.

"If you would like to support the Ice Palace project, we have both large sponsorships available, and the GoFundMe page for individual donations," said Ice Harvest Committee member Amy Erickson, noting that it can be accessed either via the direct link,, or by going to the main page at and doing a search for "Ice Palace in Detroit Lakes MN."

To learn more about becoming an Ice Palace sponsor, please contact Tiffiny Walz at 218-234-1490, or send an email to

That email address can also be used for people who would like to volunteer to be a part of the ice harvest and/or ice palace construction project, Stearns added.

"We still need plenty of volunteers," she said.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454