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Detroit Lakes lights up 30-foot ice palace as 10-day Polar Fest kicks off

A sculpture garden sits in the Detroi9t Lakes park, near the rest of the festivities. Kaysey Price / Forum News Service1 / 4
Red, purple, blue, and green, the palace lit up in Detroit Lakes on Thursday night. Meagan Pittelko / Forum News Service2 / 4
Hundreds gathered by the Detroit Lakes Pavilion to watch the lights on the ice palace. Meagan Pittelko / Forum News Service3 / 4
The ice palace on the beach lit up at 7 p.m. for the kick off Polar Fest ceremony on Thursday night. Meagan Pittelko / Forum News Service4 / 4

DETROIT LAKES, Minn.—Folks showed up in droves for Polar Fest's kick off in Detroit Lakes on Thursday evening, despite sub-zero temps.

Children and other community members wandered through the ice sculpture garden and slid down a tubing hill next to the Detroit Lakes Pavilion. Then, they went inside the building for a little walk through ice harvest history before laying eyes on the peak of the excitement: the 30 foot-tall ice palace, which was lit in a ceremony at 7 p.m.

Hundreds huddled around to watch the palace light up red, green, blue, and purple, but the evening was particularly special for one Frazee girl, Lillian Adams, who was celebrating her 11th birthday at the event with some of her closest friends.

Adams said being at the event with her friends and getting to see all of the sculptures—and the palace, of course—is something she will never forget.

Other kids posed for pictures on King Isbit's throne and climbed along the palace. Some people warmed themselves by the large fires, which were surrounded by ice, built on the sides of the palace.

"We should all feel very blessed in this community," said Ice Harvest Committee member Scott Walz before the lighting ceremony. "Everything about his palace has been by the community for the community. Everything that needed to get done, there was always somebody to step up to help....this has been amazing. Thank you to everybody in this community."

Nearby eateries like the new Hub 41 and Lakeside benefited greatly from the increased visitors.

Lakeside Brewery created their own winter shandy, which they debuted during happy hour, and the bar filled to standing room only.

Several of the bartenders noted that the whole festival has been great for business, even more so than just the regular ice fishing season.

But it's just the beginning. Thursday marked the kick-off of a 10-day festival.