Community NewsMount Vernon Matters

ICE! Is a Nice (and Chilly) Family Festivity at National Harbor

Tubing on Snow Flow Mountain was a draw for the more adventurous. (Photos: Steve Hunt)

Alexandria, VA – Over the river and through the woods from grandmother’s house we go …. to a magical playland that’s a special holiday treat for the whole family.

Just across the Potomac River, minutes from Alexandria and Mount Vernon, Gaylord’s ICE! offers not only the life-size story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer carved from over two million pounds of ice but also ice slides, ice skating, ice tubing, and snowball blasting which looks like skeeball with snow.

The entrance to ICE!, the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Rudolph and friends are beloved by all.

On the quieter side, Mrs. Claus offers a Christmas Traditions show, and gingerbread houses are available for purchase and construction.

Donning the provided parkas over our own coats, gloves, and hats, we enter a 17,000-square-foot recreation of the beloved Christmas story, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Over 40 master artists from Harbin, China, carved the wonderland from some 6,000 blocks of ice, each weighing 300 pounds. It reportedly took 35 days to create. A lone carver from Harbin illustrates the areas we wander through the exhibit. The girls greet him in Mandarin.

An ice carver from Harbin demonstrates his craft.
Helena Miller proved a master at Snow Blasting.

The scenes are almost enchanting enough to make us forget the chilling temperatures. “I really like practicing ice skating,” said 6-year-old Audrey Miller of Alexandria of the outdoor rink with sliding polar bear figures for beginners to hold on to. It was Audrey’s first time on skates.

Audrey Miller enjoyed the candy canes and other treats in Christmas Village.
Helena Miller took to ice with glee.

Her sister Helena Miller, 10, “thought it was amazing. There were so many fun things to do, like ice slides and ice sculptures telling the Rudolph story and ice skating. All the decorations (around Gaylord) really put you in the holiday spirit right way,” she said.

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Marlene Miller

Marlene Miller has lived in, and written about, Mount Vernon for decades. She raised her family here, her two children graduating from area public schools. After retiring from over 16 years of publishing her own newspaper, The Zebra has tempted her back to community journalism

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