St. Thomas Poised to Become True 'Winter Wonderland'

Magic Ice Gallery founder Kirsten-Marie Holmen hopes to open the attraction by mid-December.Visitors to the island with a yen to avoid the 80-degree sun have will soon have a novel alternative: don snow suits, mittens and leggings and visit with a frozen Queen Charlotte Amalie on a 4-below-zero trek through the frozen north, Caribbean style.

The Danish queen for whom the town is named has been memorialized in bronze and plaster, but this is likely her maiden appearance in ice.

Kirsten-Marie Holmen held court Monday morning introducing her unique concept, Magic Ice, to a group of cotton-clad St. Thomians eager to hear her ideas, while enjoying the day’s warmth under an outside tent.

The very blond and very Norwegian Holmen spoke of her ambitions. She said she opened the first Magic Ice gallery in Norway’s Lofoten Islands in 2004.

Four years later, Magic Ice was voted the best attraction in the islands—receiving 30,000 visitors a year out of an annual count of 200,000.

And that is exactly what Holmen has in mind for St. Thomas.

The cavernous Magic Ice structure was abuzz with construction work Monday as workers installed polyurethane panels on walls of the 203-foot building, along with LED lighting and carved-out interior walls.

Work continues on the 203-foot-long Magic Ice Gallery.Holmen said that by mid-December the space will be an entrance to another world, a spatial dimension far removed from everyday life, "with a feeling you are beamed above the Arctic circle."

That is to say if the Arctic Circle had Danish queens, pirate ships, iguanas and pelicans.

There will be plenty of dramatically lit life-size pirates, and the bar will be a shipwreck.

She said tons of Arctic ice will be brought to the territory, where a crew of about 13 special ice-sculptors will create a Caribbean world in crystal clear ice.

Before visitors enter the new world, they will need some new duds. Holmen said jackets, gloves and even leggings will be available free for the half-hour tour, where folks sit on a bar stool made of ice, at a bar constructed of ice, and enjoy an icy-cold drink (vodka) in a glass made of ice. She didn’t mention seat warmers for those bar stools.

Holmen said the cruise lines have approached her and are eager to see Magic Ice as a Caribbean attraction.

"They specifically mentioned St. Thomas," she said.

This Saturday she will host a job fair at the Windward Passage Hotel beginning at 9 a.m. The event is in conjunction with taxi entrepreneur and community activist Bruce Flamon, who will supply the Magic Ice’s taxi-tour service from the ships.

Holmen said there would be between 10 and 15 jobs, which run the gamut from taxi dispatchers and museum guides to “runners” to transport the snow garb from exit to entrance.

School tours are in the works for the future, Holmen said.

Monique Hodge, Department of Tourism assistant director, called the idea, "a wonder.”

"I’m in awe," she said. "And it will be so good for the downtown area merchants to have this right on the waterfront."

Further inquiries about Magic Ice can be directed to Holmen at 422-1581.

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