Ice Sculpture of local penguins on display at New England Aquarium

Special to the Sun

An ice sculpture of several Aquarium penguins, designed and carved by Don Chapelle of Brilliant Ice Sculpture of Lawrence, will take over New England Aquarium’s Central Wharf, beginning Dec. 28, weather permitting, and in time for this year’s Boston Waterfront Ice Sculpture Stroll on New Year’s Eve. The sculpture will be formed out of 36 blocks of ice, each weighing 300 pounds, for a total of 10,800 pounds. 

For 16 years, Chapelle has been creating massive ice sculptures for the Aquarium including a North Atlantic right whale, sharks, penguins, fur seals, sea lion pups, and octopuses. This year, he is preparing a 10-foot-wide, 8-foot-tall, 4-foot-deep sculpture of the Aquarium’s beloved African penguins, each standing about 35 to 40 inches tall, including Beach Donkey, a 24-year-old elderly African penguin who captivated the public this year. 

More than half of the Aquarium’s penguin residents have exceeded their life expectancy of 15 years in the wild, requiring specialized geriatric care by Aquarium staff to ensure the animals are healthy and happy. 

Don Chapelle began this year’s ice sculpture in his studio in an old Lawrence mill building off North Canal Street. Using powerful and highly accurate ice sculpting tools, he makes intricate designs and then fuses the pieces together on site at the Aquarium. In his studio, Chappelle stores the sculpture pieces in a freezer that gets down to 12 to 15 degrees before shipping them out in several of his delivery vehicles. 

“It’s always an honor to work with such an esteemed institution such as the New England Aquarium,” Chapelle said. “We have partnered for 16 years, and it’s been a pleasure designing and sculpting all sorts of mammals, fish, and fauna.”  

The public is invited to come celebrate New Year’s Eve on Boston’s waterfront. The Aquarium is one of 32 locations participating in the free Waterfront Ice Sculpture stroll on Dec. 31 from 1 p.m. to dusk. Visitors can view the interactive map and learn more about participating companies and organizations at 

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