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With an optimistic eye on the weather, crews started installing large chutes on Chautauqua Lake Thursday in hope that they will be able to build an ice castle.

"I think we'll have good weather," construction crew chief Rick Syper said. I really look forward to being able to start construction Monday and to building a castle."

There was no ice castle last year because of mild weather and a lack of ice on Chautauqua Lake. This year, organizers have already determined that they will not hold any part of the festival if they can't build a castle.

The event's co-chairman, Ann Weidman, said Thursday, "We haven't set a deadline yet, but I think that if we can't start building by the end of next week we may have to scrap it."

The weather appeared favorable for the first two weeks of January. Because of the thaw over the last week-and-a-half, the ice is only about 6 inches thick on the lake now. Syper said ideal construction conditions would require an ice depth of 8 inches or thicker.

The Ice Castle Extravaganza is scheduled for Feb. 12-14.

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