There's something alarming about seeing a headless Lucy van Pelt, the agitating yet entirely loveable character from Charles Schulz's "Peanuts" comic strip.
But there she was Thursday, her blue dress carved in ice, her head just a few yards away waiting to be positioned squarely on her shoulders.
Not many people are privy to seeing a headless Charlie Brown or an eyeless Snoopy, but the 40 artisans who flew to Central Florida from Harbin, China, to build the annual ICE! display at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee are a special lot.
They are, after all, spending 11 hours a day for more than a month dragging large chunks of colored ice into place, meticulously shaving it into the famous Peanuts characters.
"This is kind of a new experience for him," said Daniel Wu, speaking on behalf of carver Wu Bao Quan. As project manager, Wu keeps carvers and builders on track, coordinating construction of the colorful scene.
This was the first time the 50-year-old Wu Bao Quan was part of the Gaylord Palms holiday event, which will run its 13th iteration Nov. 18 through Jan. 1.
Wu, a Tampa native, has been worked with the local Gaylord Palms holiday event since 2009, watching it transform from a general holiday theme to character-based creations.
The space is kept at a brisk 9 degrees during the final event, but the temperature is dropped to an even cooler 4 or 5 degrees during the construction to offset the frequency of doors opening.
Scenes already are taking shape. Besides half-done characters, structures and walls took form in the bitter cold.
So far, 20 tractor-trailers have delivered ice, bringing 320 pallets to the team responsible for creating the 12 scenes that will comprise the Peanuts portion of the event. That's not even half the ice that will form the final product, which includes a nativity scene and a carver's workshop.
When Wu Bao Quan arrived at the resort last week, he was greeted with an empty warehouse space; pallets of ice awaited him and his 30 years of ice-carving experience. It's the first time he's created American characters.
Speaking through Wu, the artist said the hardest part of the job has been executing the design based on detailed, specific blueprints he is given.
"If you're looking at the design, sometimes he has his ways of doing it," said Wu. "But you have to follow the design, because sometimes you see it differently."
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