Ice blocks are lined out for the Kids Park Maze as work begins on this year's Ice Alaska Ice Park in Fairbanks, Alaska Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 in preparation for the 2015 BP World Ice Art Championships. The park opens Feb. 23. (AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Eric Engman)

Ice blocks are lined out for the Kids Park Maze as work begins on this year's Ice Alaska Ice Park in Fairbanks, Alaska Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 in preparation for the 2015 BP World Ice Art Championships. The park opens Feb. 23. (AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Eric Engman)

Ice playground construction underway in Fairbanks

FAIRBANKS (AP) — Workers are building an ice playground in a city in Alaska’s interior, including a pirate ship slide made from 65 refrigerator-sized blocks of ice.

The work began Monday at the George Horner Ice Park in Fairbanks ahead of the annual world ice sculpture championships, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

A giant ice lens also is planned for the park, according to ice championships chairman Dick Brickley. It will be 12 feet in diameter and powerful enough to focus the sun’s rays and start a fire, he said.

The ice is so clear, the rays go right through it, and one small telescope in the past started a fire on a piece of plywood without melting, Brickley said.

Another new attraction this year is an experimental sculpture that will be carved on land, then displayed underwater.

“It’s kind of a neat new concept,” Brickley said.

The attractions must be completed by the time the park opens Feb. 23. That’s when teams of artists participating in the 2015 BP World Ice Art championships begin making sculptures.

The artists are from 16 countries.

The ice being harvested this year is crystal-clear aqua blue, Brickley said. This winter has been warmer and there’s been less snow than usual, which is actually good for ice formation, he said. Snow can shield ice from cold air.

A new piece of ice art that’s scheduled to go up this week will feature a sculpture of Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott.

The sculpture will be outside the Carlson Center for the Fairbanks inaugural ball for the new Walker administration. The event is scheduled for Saturday.

An Qui Feng of Harbin, China cuts away at an ice block while working on a sculpture that will depict Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott as work begins on this year's Ice Alaska Ice Park in Fairbanks, Alaska Monday afternoon, Jan. 19, 2015 in preparation for the 2015 BP World Ice Art Championships. The park opens Feb. 23. (AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Eric Engman)

An Qui Feng of Harbin, China cuts away at an ice block while working on a sculpture that will depict Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott as work begins on this year’s Ice Alaska Ice Park in Fairbanks, Alaska Monday afternoon, Jan. 19, 2015 in preparation for the 2015 BP World Ice Art Championships. The park opens Feb. 23. (AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Eric Engman)

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