Calgary

'The kids love it': Red Deer dad builds massive ice castle in his front yard

A massive hand-built ice castle has overtaken a Red Deer family's front yard. "It's something that the kids will remember forever, and I think it's worth putting that time in to have an awesome childhood," said Donnie White, the dad who built the castle.

Fort features penguin sculptures, snow slides, and an impressive archway

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      A Red Deer dad has built the ultimate winter playground for his young children in his front yard.

      Donnie White spoke to the Calgary Eyeopener Monday about the large ice castle he began making before Christmas. It takes up his entire front yard — "then probably a little more than that," White said.

      Three penguin ice sculptures adorn the castle, while ice stairs lead inside to two large slides made of snow.

      "It's something that the kids will remember forever, and I think it's worth putting that time in to have an awesome childhood," he said.

      Castle made of 150 ice blocks

      White said he made the castle because he always wanted a snow fort when he was a child, but his father built an ice rink instead.

      Of course, it was way harder than I had in my mind.- Donnie White

      Creating the masterpiece involved chainsaws, a generous landowner in Lacombe with a frozen pond, and help from White's friend and his father-in-law. 

      White and his recruits harvested ice from the pond by cutting chunks with a chainsaw, removing the pieces using an ATV and a makeshift ramp, then cutting them into smaller blocks — about 150 in total.

      A Red Deer dad has built the ultimate winter playground for his young children in his front yard. 0:55

      "Then from there, I just kept hauling them every chance I got to my house," White said.

      Next, White began building the castle in the front yard of his Aspen Ridge house, working off a rough sketch he had made. 

      'I go sliding everyday'

      Perhaps the most perilous part of construction was building an archway at the fort's entrance — over White's front walkway.

      "Of course, it was way harder than I had in my mind," White said.

      "Eventually, I got it right and it looked awesome, and the kids love it and everybody's happy, and I go sliding everyday and the kids come with me," White added.  

      This is the third time White has built a winter fort for his children. He's already thinking about bigger and better plans for next year's castle, and plans to recruit his nephew to help.  

      "Every year, I say that I will take it easy next year, but as the winter approaches, I start thinking about it, then I go over the top," he said. 


      With files from the Calgary Eyeopener