New England Aquarium Ice Sculpture Carving
December 29, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
An ice sculpture of several resident Aquarium California sea lions, designed and carved by Don Chapelle of Brilliant Ice Sculpture in Lawrence, will premiere on Central Wharf at the New England Aquarium, beginning Dec. 29 (weather permitting) and in time for this year’s Waterfront Ice Sculpture Stroll on New Year’s Eve. The sculpture will be formed out of 32 blocks of ice weighing 10,000 pounds.
For 17 years, Chapelle has been creating massive ice sculptures for the Aquarium including a North Atlantic right whale, sharks, penguins, fur seals, octopuses, and more. This year, he is preparing a 12-foot-wide, 6-foot-tall, 9-foot-deep sculpture of the Aquarium’s cherished sea lions and a trainer. The sculpture is an ode to the Aquarium’s growing sea lion population, which welcomed Gio and Farley earlier this year.
The two sea lions were stranded off the coast of California at just a year old. They were released after rescue and rehabilitation at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, only to be found stranded again. Due to their young age, they failed to thrive in the wild and were deemed non-releasable. After spending recent years at the Birmingham Zoo in Alabama, they moved to the New England Aquarium in July.
Chapelle began this year’s ice sculpture in his studio in an old Lawrence mill building off North Canal Street. Using powerful and highly accurate ice sculpting tools, he makes intricate designs and then fuses the pieces together on site at the Aquarium. In his studio, Chappelle stores the sculpture pieces in a freezer that gets down to 12 to 15 degrees before shipping them out in several of his delivery vehicles.
“For the past 17 years, it has been an honor to design and sculpt the Aquarium’s various animals,” Chapelle said. “The Aquarium and its beloved animals are a staple of the city, and it’s a joy to see visitors light up when they see these animals come to life through these sculptures.”
The public is invited to celebrate New Year’s Eve on Boston’s waterfront. The Aquarium is one of 30+ locations participating in the free Waterfront Ice Sculpture Stroll on Dec. 31 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can view the interactive map and learn more about participating companies and organizations at bostonharbornow.org/nye.