British Columbia

Ice sculptures at Vernon Winter Carnival damaged by vandals

Two ice sculptures created for the annual Vernon Winter Carnival were vandalized over the weekend.

One sculpture completely smashed and part of another knocked down late Saturday

A cowboy-shaped ice sculpture that was part of the Vernon Winter Carnival was destroyed over the weekend. (Submitted by Vicki Proulx)

Two ice sculptures created for the annual Vernon Winter Carnival were vandalized over the weekend.

A cowboy sculpture was completely shattered, while half a train-shaped sculpture was knocked down at Polson Park around 11:30 p.m., according to organizers.

Eight exhibits remain in the drive-thru ice sculpture exhibition, a COVID-safe activity the Vernon Winter Carnival Society is putting on for the first time this year. The carnival is a 10-day winter event that has been held in the north Okanagan city every February since 1960.

"We're not really clear what happened exactly, but we know that at least two individuals came in and pushed them over," society executive director Vicki Proulx told Chris Walker, the host of CBC's Daybreak South.

Proulx says each sculpture could be as heavy as 136 kilograms.

"For someone to knock them over is not an easy task," she said.

A train-shaped ice sculpture was partly destroyed by vandals over the weekend. (Submitted by Vicki Proulx)

The ice sculptures were made by three carvers — two from the Lower Mainland and one from Saskatchewan —  who are now working for a similar winter festival in Fort St. John. 

Proulx says she's glad the team taught a local Vernon carver enough to be able to repair the train-shaped sculpture — and to use the leftover ice to do something meaningful with the unsalvageable cowboy sculpture.

"With the leftover blocks [from the train sculpture], we actually made a little graveyard for the cowboy," she said. "So a little bit of a tribute." 

The Vernon Winter Carnival has rented Polson Park from the City of Vernon and charges each visiting vehicle $10. The organizer allows a maximum of 50 cars in the exhibition area, in accordance with the provincial public health order.

Pushback from local community

Proulx says she knows there has been some pushback from the local community about her society's rental of the park, but she doesn't believe the vandalism was instigated by resentful Vernon residents.

"That [renting the park and limiting access to it] wasn't a decision that came lightly," she said. "It really was based on the COVID protocols that we had to adhere to in order to put on this event."

Proulx says she wants to continue the ice sculpture exhibition in future years.

In 2017, the year of Canada's 150th birthday, the Vernon Winter Carnival was hailed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as "the largest carnival of its kind in Western Canada, and one of the biggest in North America."

The carnival runs until Feb. 14.

Tap the link below to hear Vicki Proulx's interview on Daybreak South:

Vicki Proulx, executive director of Vernon Winter Carnival, speaks to Chris Walker about the damage on the ice sculptures. 4:45

With files from Daybreak South and Jenifer Norwell

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