Ice Sculptors Carve 300-Block Ice Labyrinth for First Night Pittsburgh

Dec 30, 2013

Ice Creations' Rich Bubin works on 90,000-pound ice labyrinth.
Credit Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

The Cultural Trust is inviting Pittsburghers to spend the last few hours of 2013 getting lost in a 90,000-pound ice labyrinth.

“In honor of the 20th anniversary, we are building this fantastic ice labyrinth,” Darcy Kucenic, Director of First Night Pittsburgh, said.  “It is a 30 by 40 maze made of blocks of ice, it is five feet tall and the walls will eventually be lit up with LED lights.”

Rich Bubin of Ice Creations in Churchill and his 12-person team are carving and assembling the labyrinth’s 300 blocks.

“He’s an award winning ice carver, he actually performs during First Night at our Fire and Ice Plaza and he has been a part of all twenty First Night Events,” Kucenic said.  The labyrinth is in the plaza at 8th and Penn downtown.

Bubin is the Guinness World record holder for the fastest ice carver and was the 2002 Winter Olympic ice carving team captain.  With more than 65,000 sculptures, he has carved more than 8 million pounds of ice.

He will also carve a motorcycle during First Night while fire dancers from Steel Town Fire perform with poi spinning, flaming scimitars, or swords, and fiery hula-hoops.

Poi is a performance art tool that is soaked in fuel, set on fire, and spun to create different designs.

According to Kucenic, people can sit and take pictures on two ice thrones while lost in the labyrinth.

“Once everything is sort of structurally put together, Rich will come back and do a lot of the detail work,” Kucenic said.  “He will drill holes in the walls where the LED lights will go inside.”

According to the Weather Channel, the day of Pittsburgh’s New Year’s celebration will have a high of 29 degrees and a low of 21 degrees -- easing any concerns that the labyrinth will melt.

“Everything should stick together which I’m sure makes everyone happy that this magnificent piece will stick together until it’s time to take it down,” Kucenic said.

The labyrinth will be chain sawed New Year’s Day.

First Night Pittsburgh is from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Tuesday.