Jess Parrish stood in front of a giant frosty hand, making sure every finger was just right. After all, the icy digits on the 16-foot sculpture of Atlas would have to support the entire world.
The large piece of frozen art sitting in the middle of Bennett Avenue was one of several sculptures of mythological figures taking shape Sunday in Cripple Creek. Parrish battled a stiff breeze, steady snow and temperatures in the 20s during the first weekend of the annual Ice Festival in the Teller County town.
“It’s perfect out here for us,” said Joel Ward, Parrish’s sculpting teammate for Cool Hand Ice Sculptors of Longmont. “It’s been perfect the whole time we’ve been here.”
Cool Hand had five sculptors at this year’s festival. They began building Atlas Wednesday and were confident the Greek god would still be intact for visitors to the festival next weekend with high temperatures expected remain in mid-20s all week.
The 2013 theme for the annual event is “Mythological Wonderland.” Other works in progress included a large interpretation of Poseidon, god of the sea, and his Kraken sea monster. Another depicted a god of fire complete with a team of horses and a chariot spewing flaming, yet frozen exhaust.
Other sculptors, including a team from Houston, Texas, were just beginning their art Sunday among live music and the smells of barbecue and roasted almonds. Stacks of square ice blocks gave little indication as to what the Cripple Creek street would look like during weekend No. 2 when the festival resumes Feb. 16 and 17.
Fort Carson soldier Dave Reynolds, his wife Melonie and their daughters Alayna, 5, and Kaylee, 3, made the drive west Sunday to enjoy the icy artwork.
His daughters took their turns on an ice slide. And Reynolds explained that he’s been at Fort Carson for two years and used to be stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska. He said the family frequented the World Ice Art Championships while living in Fairbanks.
“We thought we’d come out and see how this one compared,” he said.