Friends in Cold Places - Part 2 - City of Lakes Luminary Loppet

Jennifer Shea Hedberg | 29 January, 2015

Wintercraft Luminary Loppet Enchanted Forest 2010 photo by Martha ArcherIce Glass Sculpture by Jennifer Shea Hedberg at the City of Lakes Luminary Loppet - Enchanted Forest area in 2010  |  Photo by Martha Shull Archer


One of my life's greatest joys was creating and then experiencing the City of Lakes Luminary Loppet's Enchanted Forest* of 2010. (The Luminary Loppet is an event in an annual Minneapolis winter festival centered around nordic skiing.) I spent the better part of a month preparing and moving over 50 large sheets of ice glass from the freezing pools in my front yard to the peninsula of land that juts out into Lake of the Isles (one of several lakes that are central to the landscape and culture of Minneapolis). I also created and moved huge ice lanterns (the size of traditional garbage cans) and at least 100 globe ice lanterns of all sizes. All of these icy creations were going to be placed along the ski path that runs over the land of the peninsula. 


I had volunteered to help with the Luminary Loppet for two years leading up to this extraordinary effort. The first year I was able to help was in 2008. I had been asked to help out by the organizer of the event, but was unsure how to become involved, so I just brought down about 60 globe ice lanterns to the start of the race and scattered them about.


The outcome was that they seemed to get lost in the sea of ice lanterns that were made for the trail. So, when the Luminary Loppet organizer asked again in 2009, he suggested I concentrate in the canal area of the race.


Under the Bridge Luminary Loppet 2009 Wintercraft photo by Bruce ChallgrenLuminary Ice Sculptures, by Jennifer Shea Hedberg of Wintercraft, installed under a bridge in the canal between Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis during the City of Lakes Luminary Loppet in 2009  |  Photo by Bruce Challgren of


That worked out quite well, as I put most of the effort under the bridges so my sculptures were shielded from the intense sun of the day. (That year, the Luminary Loppet was plagued by high heat and wind--a deadly combination for traditional bucket ice lanterns. Many of the candles of the bucket lanterns blew out and went dark which created a safety hazard.) All seemed fine, but he told me that when people stopped to take photos with the sculptures in the tight space under the bridge, it created a log jam.


So, the next year (2010), he asked if I would decorate the area of the course called the Enchanted Forest. I was told that up until then, that part of the ski trail had been decorated with extra ice lanterns meant for the trail but not much else, so it was a clean canvas. As the Enchanted Forest came right before the amazing towers of IceCropolis and was in a wooded area, I decided it would be important to go vertical with my ice. I had started to experiment with Ice Glass the year before, but the intense heat melted it all. The Enchanted Forest is thick with tall pines, so any Ice Glass that I installed there would be shielded from the sun—it might be a perfect fit.


Enhanted Forest Luminary Loppet 2010 photo by Mitchster

These Luminary Ice Glass Sculptures, by Jennifer Shea Hedberg, were installed along the ski trail in the Enchanted Forest area of the City of Lakes Luminary Loppet in 2010  |  Photo by


I started to imagine the ice glass as flowers growing in the shade of the trees and my vision took shape. The Loppet organizer was not quite sure what I was up to--with my weird sheets of ice and a blow torch--but he let me do whatever I wanted --  a wonderful creative freedom!


I had many angels who helped out along the way -- from my husband who helped with almost everything, to a woman who took a day to help load some ice glass in her car, and more volunteers who helped move the super heavy garbage can sized ice lanterns, as well as a family who helped light the lanterns on the day of the Luminary Loppet - plus many more. It all came together for that amazing beautiful night. The weather was perfect and the skiers and photographers came out in droves.


Ice Chip Tower by Jennifer Shea Hedberg photo by Rob Nopola

Giant Ice Chip Tower, by Jennifer Shea Hedberg, for the the City of Lakes Luminary Loppet's Enchanted Forest 2010  |  Photo by Rob Nopola


It was a magical -- a night I will never forget.  The kind words I continue to receive to this day are heartwarming. 


Luminary Loppet Enchanted Forest 2010 by Wintercraft Photo by Natasha D'Schommer

This ethereal photo of a Luminary Ice Glass Sculpture surrounded by children was taken by Natasha D'Schommer during the City of Lakes Luminary Loppet in 2010  |  Sculpture by Jennifer Shea Hedberg


I love that Kathy Loeffler, the current Luminary Loppet organizer, has continued the idea of peppering the peninsula with ice luminary creations. It has become a "community ice lantern garden". All the volunteers who help make this such an anticipated public event deserve a HUGE thank you. With our growing business to manage, Tom and I do not have the time to volunteer** again at the Luminary Loppet to the extent I did in 2009 & 2010. But, we have contributed a luminary ice sculpture here and there in recent years and hope to add a large globe ice lantern sculpture this year as well!  It is such an amazing community event and is wonderful to see the excitement it brings each year.


Kathy Loeffler's Ice Castle photo by Koren Reyes

Luminary ice sculptures continue in the Enchanted Forest. Kathy Loeffler's Luminary Ice Castle in the Enchanted Forest during the City of Lakes Luminary Loppet 2014  |  Photo by Koren Reyes 


This year, there are some challenges with weather again, so at the time I wrote this blog, the bulk of the events were being moved to Theodore Wirth Park but the Luminary was going to stay on the lakes as a walking event. Please check their website for updates: City of Lakes Luminary Loppet 2015


Next up in my Friends in Cold Places blog series: Ice Castles! 


And now, born out of happenstance, a new great joy us is a spontaneous ice luminary event Tom and I put together once a year called the Middlemoon Creekwalk.


Wintercraft Middlemoon Creekwalk 2014 Hands of ice

Luminary Ice Glass Sculpture with ice hands holding a thermal shocked globe ice lantern all lit by candles prepared for the Middlemoon Creekwalk 


If three stars line up (1. lantern-killing warm weather; 2. moon in the middle phase or close to it; 3. Tom and I are free of commitments), we gather up all the icy creations that will die in the sun and bring them down to the stretch of creek that runs near our house and light them up for neighbors. After a year or two of walkers delightfully stumbling upon our installation, we were told by many that they missed it and would rather be alerted. So, we have started sending out notices of when the Middlemoon Creekwalk will be via our Wintercraft email list, posts on our Wintercraft Facebook page, and the always trustworthy, word-of-mouth along the creek.   


An Ice Rose along the creek at Middlemoon Creekwalk 2014 Wintercraft

Luminary Ice Glass Rose by Jennifer Shea Hedberg along the creek at the Middlemoon Creekwalk 2014 


If you want to hear about the spontaneous Middlemoon Creekwalk Luminary Event this winter, be sure to go sign up for our email list or like us on Facebook. Warning though.. the notice is generally only a day or so before we install so check your inbox! (we are fully booked with commitments until Feb 11 though so it won't be before then...) And, if you want to HELP, the idea has alway been, the more the merrier! Please email me at jh at for how you can be a part of the fun.


Hope to see you along the creek,




*The Luminary Loppet had several different aspects to it in 2010. One was the trails which are lined with 1,000+ ice luminaries. Two are the ice spectacals which are larger ice creations: the Ice Cropolis and the Ice Pyramid. Three was the Enchanted Forest, which was the area that I decorated in 2010. I did not help with the other ice luminaries. Those ice luminaries were created by a huge team of volunteers--organized with military-like efficiency. A very impressive organization! There are many more ice creations to see now, including the Ice Henge! 


**I was told in 2011, that the City of Lakes Loppet does not allow for sponsorship in the area of ice luminary creation. If that rule ever changes, I could afford to help in a larger capacity - it would be a blast!


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