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Thriving in the Cold: Eagle River Elementary students learn fun and finance go hand-in-hand in their home townSubmitted: 01/18/2018
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director
lkimble@wjfw.com

Thriving in the Cold: Eagle River Elementary students learn fun and finance go hand-in-hand in their home town
EAGLE RIVER - If you want to get an good understanding of what makes Eagle River tick in the winter time, the first stop should be the ice castle.

At a structure made of thousands of blocks of ice, about 55 Eagle River Elementary fourth-grade students learned how the decades-old idea comes together each year.

"They're actually a little warm because this is a heat wave for us," teacher Nicole Musial said of her students.  "These are the future members of our community. When they grow up, they re going to do something incredible."

Musial helped coordinate the tour, which started as a chance to send a picture to their pen pals in Florida, but grew into a day-long field trip.

Eagle River Assistant Fire Chief Steve Burr helped his department build the castle over five days earlier in January. Teachers asked him to incorporate history, math, and economics into his speech.

"All three of them fit in well with the ice castle," Burr said of the topics. "[Asked if he's an expert in those fields] Absolutely not. But i did brush up... [I just want them to learn] the sense of community pride and how the entire city of Eagle River and the surrounding townships, how they embrace this."

Beyond getting to see something cool - like the ice castle - close up, students got an understanding of how winter attractions keep restaurants, hotels, and stores rolling through what otherwise might be a down time. It's a season revved up thanks to another January attraction just across town.

The World Championship Snowmobile Derby should draw thousands of people in its 55th year this weekend. Thursday, those same Eagle River students got the chance to see how the track gets made, learn some of its history, and hear from track owner Chuck Decker just how important the races are to the snowmobile capital of the world.

"It's a big area for sports and so it's just great to introduce them at a young age to what's right next door to them," Decker said.

Getting to use the track's public address system and sipping on hot chocolate just added to the experience, but the kids hooked onto the idea that fun and finances go hand-in-hand here.

"You start understanding it and you realize that it s everywhere," 10-year-old Katie Swendson said. "Things are happening everywhere you go."

On this day, that was all across their city; a small community that swells in the winter, with an impact lasting longer than the snow and ice.

"They are part of something bigger," Musial said. "They are not just a student at Eagle River Elementary School. They are able to leave a lasting footprint here."

Teachers say the whole day was free aside from paying $20 total for the bus. The Eagle River Fire Department says this weekend s warm up shouldn't bring down the ice castle as long as they can patch the blocks overnight.

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