By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Not everyone is cowering from the cold.

Thursday’s frigid temperatures were just right for a few groups preparing for weekend events that will bring out thousands of spectators from around the metro.

It is crunch time at the New Brighton Ice Castles.

“Today we’re building slides, so we’ve got a chainsaw team cutting up blocks to create the bases and the walls,” said Ice Castles Director Dan Beck.

The arctic attraction opens Friday, so this weather is actually a relief.

“We love it when it’s anywhere between zero and 10 degrees. That’s where it’s best for us,” Beck said.

As long as the cold sticks around, so will these castles. Across the metro, WCCO found more ice enthusiasts. Lake Minnetonka in Excelsior is site of the North American Pond Hockey Championships, where 70 to 80 teams will compete in the games that start Friday out on the lake.

“We take a lot of pride in the ice, and we’ve got a whole crew that all they do is focus on the ice prep,” organizer J. Lindsay said.

(credit: CBS)

You can’t host the championships without a shiny slab of ice.

“We’re rocking this thing. I mean, we’re ready for the winter, and we’re ready for the weather to dump on us,” Lindsay said. “We got a ton of volunteers and people are excited.”

Organizer Sarah Bigham says folks are coming from across the country to participate.

“We have people come in from California, Oregon, Colorado, South Carolina, up from Florida,” Bigham said. “Warm welcome? Maybe not so much, but we’re going to be happy to see them.”

Not only do they love this weather, but they are asking Mother Nature for more.

“We embrace winter, we love it, we love everything about it, and as curveballs get thrown at us, we rally and that’s all part of the fun of it,” Lindsay said.

This will be a cold and snowy tournament for them, but the cause will warm your heart. The organizers purchased the rights and turned it into a charity event seven years ago in honor of their friend, Sarah Bigham’s husband, who passed away unexpectedly. They have raised $1.3 million for charity over the past seven years.

They will be out here on Lake Minnetonka all weekend if you want to come watch.

Erin Hassanzadeh

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