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In what stands to be a very cold but cool job, crews on Wednesday will begin cutting ice blocks for the Winter Carnival palace that will rise over the next few weeks in downtown St. Paul.

Over the weekend, snow was swept off a large swath of Green Lake in Spicer, Minn., where a team of people from Park Construction, Park Avenue Trucking, Xcel Energy and Wee Kut will harvest more than 4,000 ice blocks from the lake over the next three days and truck them to Rice Park.

After a ground-breaking Friday, the first blocks are scheduled to arrive in St. Paul Saturday. It will take 35 workers two weeks to construct the 70-foot tall palace, project officials said.

Work should be completed for the opening day of the "Coolest Celebration on Earth," Jan. 25.

To finance the operation, the St. Paul Winter Carnival and the St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation are allowing the public to buy individual blocks that will be used to build the structure. Prices start at $25. In return, donors get a signed ice block certificate. Those who give higher amounts also get a commemorative photo of the palace.

So far, more than 500 people have bought blocks, said carnival President and CEO Deb Schaber.

"The response has been amazing," she said. "We're excited for the community support."

The St. Paul Winter Carnival has built 36 ice palaces in its history, with the most recent in 2004. The first ice castle was built in 1886. It was 106 feet and cost $5,210. In comparison the tallest was the Pepsi Palace of 1992, which cost $1.9 million and stood 165 feet, a Guinness record.

Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768