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Ice Sculptor Don Chapelle Plans To Wow First Night Crowds For 26th Year

BOSTON (CBS) - They're everyone's First Night favorites, the ice sculptures, examples of the fleeting nature of some art, completely weather dependent and always beautiful.

Don Chapelle's creations have wowed the crowds for decades.

His art doesn't involve canvas, brushes or oils. Instead it's chainsaws, grinder tools and hand chisels. When he starts on a 300 pound rectangular block of ice, it doesn't look like much. But it doesn't take long to undergo a remarkable transformation, courtesy of Donald Chapelle, owner of Brilliant Ice Sculpture in Lawrence.

"This will be my 26th year carving for First Night Boston. Every year is enjoyable," he says.

Tens of thousands of people have marveled at his work on New Year's Eve. Tons and tons of ice reinvented into huge, sparkling, temporary works of art that loom large, then end up as puddles.

"Planned obsolence, that's the beauty of this. They know it's only going to be there 2 or 3 days. They know they've got to get down and see it. The point of it being vanishing is a draw for people, and it's something that some years I'm grateful for, some years I'm not," says Chapelle.

In Don's studio, also known as a freezer, he also creates sculptures for parties and corporations combining form, color, whimsy and practicality. But First Night holds a special place, and a special risk.

"The biggest challenge outdoors is the weather. Sunlight being the number one factor that ruins ice the fastest, not temperature. Occasionally after I have dinner and take a shower I go out and just sit and listen to comments and you can learn a lot from the people by listening. Did they get it, did they not get it," he says.

We'll all be able to make our own decisions at First Night. You can see Don's work at the Prudential Center Plaza on Boylston St.

Brilliant Ice Sculpture:

First Night Boston:

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