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Eleventh annual Crystal Cabin Fever is 100 tons of icy fun

Bil Bowden

Children can find their storybook favorites on TV, internet, books. But again this year, there's something new that gets the kids out of the house on a winter day, dreaming of fantasy land. And it includes a bit of exercise.

This year's Crystal Cabin Fever is called "Once Upon A Time", and is an all-ice spectacular in Lakeville, Pa., just east of Scranton.  A week ago, a dozen men were still buzzing through the converted lumber yard building to stack, saw and carve 100 tons of clear and colored ice blocks into remarkable characters and sites.

Work will continue throughout the show, and owner Mark Crouthamel promises the buzz of electric chain saws and other tools will be heard until the end.  "Work on the show is never finished until the last day," he says. Workers will continue to lift and place 300-pound ice blocks and 'glue' them in place with water. And then, Mother Nature works to 'dismantle' or melt the showpieces. Some of the colored ice will be hauled away to keep from staining the floors.

To get to the site, use these GPS coordinates-- N 41.435995, W 75.27911-- to the event, but do not use the address. Or take these directions-- take Interstate 83 to Interstate 81 north to Interstate 84 east.  Take Interstate 84 east to exit #17. Make a left off exit ramp onto state route 191 north, proceed 3.8 miles to 4 way stop light. Make right onto state route 590 east. The site is located 7.3 miles on the left. It's about 170 miles or a three hour drive from York.


Each year, the Fever highlights a  cabin or two, and this year the bright red brick house made famous by the Three Little Pigs is the show's highlight. This cabin and Jack's Beanstalk are brightened with food coloring and milk (milk makes the color brighter and more 'solid' looking). The turrets on Cinderella's castle are blue.

Wind your way through the entrance maze and some of the Seven Dwarfs, and icy Captain Hook and Peter Pan greet you. Duck through the castle's archway, and visit Ella, the Frozen movie queen, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Climb the steps to the top of two slides, one made of 150 blocks of ice.

Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for children, and $12 for military. Dress warm, and have the kids wear snow pants for a slick and dry slide. The Fever is open through February 26, except Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

While the kids race through Once Upon A Time, adults will undoubtedly be fascinated  by the planning and work involved in this ice palace. Electric chain saws, grinders and smaller tools for details whir and whistle as Crouthamel and his team carve out another character or detail in a cabin or castle. While one team lifts another block onto the castle, another artist is carving the Three Little Pigs cabin-- brick by brick by brick by...

The cold work gives all new meaning to the phrase 'saw dust'.


Earlier in the day, workers hoisted a 1,600 pound turret onto the top of a slender tower. It was a meticulous job, sliding the turret off the forklift and on to the cylinder of ice. While it is extremely strong, ice --obviously-- doesn't bend. It snaps. Any misstep or push the wrong direction would cause the pieces to come crashing down. Tons of ice. Tons.

But, nerves of ice and steel prevailed. The tower is up, and Rapunzel will be carved this week and placed at her tower.


Last year, the weather was extremely warm, and 10,000 people toured the masterpieces. After a warm spell Tuesday and Wednesday, the temperatures will fall again, and the show will continue.