Caledonia’s ‘Ice King’ pays tribute to first responders in lieu of annual ice festival

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CALEDONIA, N.Y. (WROC) — Every year the village of Caledonia holds an ice festival, mostly created by local artist Jeff Bleier, and his company, Glacier Art. But this year, they canceled because of the pandemic. So he created something to honor the heroes of the pandemic instead.

In late February, Bleier decided to hold an ice cutting demonstration of a piece honoring first responders, healthcare workers. It depicts a nurse and a police officer looking at each other, facing inwards. It also features three stars in the middle, to symbolize the lives of the people who died due to COVID-19.

Finally, colored ice is emblazoned on the bottom: “True Heroes.”

The sculpture — made of 13 blocks of ice at 300 pounds each — took Bleier eight and a half hours to build.

Today was the first day he unwrapped the ice since crafting it originally, and News 8 got a special look at how Bleier scores then torches the ice to keep it clear and in proper shape.

“Throughout this year, everyone has been in a tough situation, and we wanted to honor those first responders along with the frontline workers,” Bleier said. “We came up with a couple of different designs, and this one came to heart.

“We’ve never seen such a response,” Bleier said of the community support, online and in person. “We’re grateful for the community here and around Rochester.”

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