GALVESTON — Some places in the country work hard to keep their parking lots clear of ice and snow during the winter.
In Galveston, a hotel plans to do the opposite.
Moody Gardens revealed its plans on Monday to turn 28,000 feet of parking lot space into an ice-sculpture park this November.
Moody Gardens will begin setting up a large tent this month in the lot where the ice sculptures will be located. By November, the tent will be more than 30 feet high and will be chilled to a temperature of 9 degrees, in order to accommodate 900 tons of ice carved into a Christmasy SpongeBob SquarePants-themed “Ice Land.”
“When you go into the exhibit, we’ll issue out parkas,” Moody Gardens CEO John Zendt said Monday.
During a media event Monday, Zendt said he had waited 11 years to bring the ice sculptures to Galveston. He traveled to Harbin, China, to see a renowned ice festival and to find the team of artists, the VYA Ice Carving Team, that will create the exhibit.
Later this year, ice sculptors will be flown in from China to begin carving the blocks of ice for the exhibit. For 45 days, the team will work to create the sculptures to Nickelodeon’s trademark specifications. Zendt said the sculptors were making sure everything — down to the shade of yellow dyes mixed into the ice — were true to the cartoon characters.
The ice for the exhibit is already being created in College Station and stored in a facility in Galveston County. The exhibit is expected to open Nov. 15.
The Ice Land exhibit will cost $5 million and be paid for entirely by The Moody Foundation, which funds, operates and supports the city-owned tourist attraction.
Moody Gardens will still continue its Festival of Lights, which will run consecutively with the Ice Land exhibit. Moody Gardens will also debut an educational Ice Age exhibition in November.
The Ice Land exhibit will also coincide with Dickens on The Strand in downtown Galveston.
Tourism officials said Monday that the Moody Gardens exhibit would be included in a concerted push to make Galveston the “Christmas Capital” of Texas — competing with places such as Grapevine and Fredericksburg.
“We feel like Galveston is unique and has a lot to offer,” Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau public relations manager Leah Cast said. “We are the biggest and best holiday destination in Texas, and we want everyone to know that.”