Thursday, January 31, 2013

Central Park Ice Festival

January 19 was the 2nd Central Park Ice Festival. Held at Belvedere Castle, Okamoto Studio carved a scale replica, in ice, of the beloved landmark before the eyes of about 4,500 spectators.  
Central Park might be the last place you would expect to see a castle but that is exactly what you will find at 79th Street. Belvedere Castle sits high above the city on Vista Rock, the second highest natural point in Central Park.
Belvedere means 'beautiful view' or 'panoramic view' in Italian and the castle provides impressive views across Central Park and New York City.
Here's the finished product in ice, in front of the real Belvedere Castle.

As usual, I entered the Park through the southeast portion. Signs were everywhere warning people about the ice in The Pond.

Walking towards the west side, I passed by one of the Park's wooden rustic structures, Cop Cot, along 6th Avenue and Central Park South.

Sometimes the Imagine mosaic at Strawberry Fields is full of flowers and little offerings. That day there was only a single white rose although the area was full of people and music when I passed by.

And there were a lot of snowdrops blooming around the area. Is Mother Nature in a hurry?

Passed some rustic benches on my way to the Castle. Facing The Lake, these benches sure have the best views. Maybe when the weather gets a little warmer, I'll sit here and enjoy the view while watching people pass by.

I also passed by the Park's only double arch, Eaglevale. Two summers ago, I walked around the Park to take pictures of all the bridges and arches. One of these days, I'll upload my pics and write about them.

Turning right from the arches leads you to another bridge, Balcony Bridge, which is near Shakespeare Garden. At the garden, I came across these flowers in bloom, I think these are hellebores.

Then just a few steps away, I'm at Belvedere Castle where carvers from the Okamoto Studio were busy carving a replica of the castle. It started with blocks of ice placed on top of each other.

Then the ice carvers measured, sawed and chiseled away at the ice.

At one time, Okamoto was interviewed, right in front of me!

While the carvers were busy, there was free hot chocolate for everyone, and members of the Central Park Conservancy gave talks about the Park's history. Even the balconies of Belvedere Castle were teeming with people watching the ice carving.

On a table are copies of the design and measurement, as well as the tools the carvers were using.

You can see the two of them looking at and checking on the design from time to time.

I knew the ice carving will take a little bit longer so I decided to walk up to the Reservoir area and just come back to see the finished product. On the way I passed by Turtle Pond, it is right beside the Castle, stretching to the back part of the castle, at the east side of the park.

I also passed by another marriage proposal on a bench plaque. I love these, I wrote about the plaques in one of my early blog posts. Another one to add to my collection of bench plaque pics.

Upon reaching The Reservoir, I saw that there was a waterfowl convention again. Most often when I walk around here, there are always a lot of birds and sometimes they stretch from end to end, like today. The white ones at the north end are seagulls, I think, while most of the waterfowl nearest me are Canadian geese.

It's always a delight to see new birds, these are hooded mergansers, you can see them in the Park during winter only.

On my way back to Belvedere Castle, I passed this cherry tree, blooming in the middle of winter! Love seeing the blooms but it is too early for them to come out, and the week after that walk there was a cold snap. I hope to see this tree overladen with blooms in the Spring.

I also passed by this tree, and I think I spotted a teddy bear! Did you see one, too, or did you see something else?

From the Great Lawn, I had this view of Belvedere Castle, with the twin towers of The San Remo looming at the back.

When I arrived back at the castle, the ice carving was finished, it looked so pretty!

By this time, most of the people who watched the ice carving were gone. As the observation deck wasn't too crowded anymore, I went inside the castle to enjoy the views of the park from the balconies. What a great view!

You can also see some of the scientific instruments used in recording the temperature in Central Park from atop one of the castle's turrets.

Above the exit door at Belvedere Castle is a dragon. It has an eagle's face, a serpent's tail, and the wings of a giant bat. Hmm, where else would a dragon be but in a castle?

I remember last year during the First Ice Festival, which was held at the Tavern on the Green area, the carvers carved two beloved park figures. One was Belvedere, one of the Park mascots, and the other one, the Angel of the Waters.

I wonder what they will carve in the next Ice Festival. I'm sure it will be something people will love to look at and enjoy. Thank you Central Park for another great winter activity!

My pics for the Central Park Ice Festival are included in my Flickr album Central Park - January 2013.

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