Photo Gallery | Jacksonville Zoo: Watch It Snow

Jacksonville, Florida


It is 94 degrees out, and yet it is snowing (artificially, not naturally) on the Northside of Jacksonville, Florida, at the Zoo and Gardens.

Saturday, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (in combination with Cataloochee Ski Resort (http://cataloochee.com), Maggie Valley, North Carolina) enlisted the help of the ICEMAN (a local ice company) to provide snow for three hours for the "Winter in July" special event.  With the price of admission, guests could slide down the ice slides and/or enjoy the cooling off zone just west of the slides.  "Winter in July" started promptly at 11:00 a.m.  Miller on Sports was there to capture this first-ever special event at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.  Knowing that such an event would attract families from Jacksonville and its surrounding communities as well as south Georgia, we arrived at 10:00 a..m., only to find the parking lots quite busy.  Undoubtedly, everyone was ready for this "cool" event.  By 10:20 a.m., hundreds of people stood patiently in line watching and waiting.  We enjoyed just watching the employees of ICEMAN spray the ice and prepare the slides.  With the help of zoo employees and volunteers at the top of the slides, children (and sometimes a parent riding with the younger ones) sat on plastic saucers to slide the 20 feet to the grass below.  

ADDITIONAL ZOO PHOTOGRAPHS CAN BE SEEN AT http://www.milleronsports.com/2012/07/must-see-jacksonville-zoo-and-gardens.html

This ice was not smooth like natural snow, but it made for some slight, yet fun, bumps to re-direct the riders.  With enormous smiles from children as they slid down from the top, the accompanying adults felt as though they were reliving childhood.  Amazingly, many of the guests have never seen snow, so this was a welcomed event, especially on such a hot day in July. 

In addition to the two slides, an Iceman employee held an 8 inch round hose and filled a twenty-foot area with icy snow.  As the ice/snow fell to the ground,  the children danced, jumped, and played.  One young girl decided that the icy area was perfect for a "snow angel."  Yes, she was wet and cold when she finished her performance, but who cares.  Once again, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens created a spectacular event and will probably need to think about a repeat performance.  As we left the zoo at 12:30, the traffic had backed up along Heckscher Drive, and the zoo parking lots and overflow lots appeared almost full.  Guess everyone in North Florida and south Georgia needs to cool down, and this was the perfect event for that summertime desire.

David, owner of ICEMAN (established over 25 years ago), told us that he delivered 40 tons of ice for today's event.  To make the faux snow, 50 pound bags of ice are opened and poured into what one can only describe as a wood chipper.  As the ice is ejected, it is captured in a large plastic hose which is pointed upward, making it snow.   David informed us that he might provide a snow shower for as many as two events per week throughout the year.  When asked about the pricing, he smiled and said, "In the summer, you must buy twice as much ice as you would need in the winter.  A typical winter event might cost two to four thousand dollars.  This event is much larger but the zoo expects 10,000 people to attend."  Iceman provides bags of ice for area 7-11 style stores and gas stations.  It also provides the necessary ice for the Riverside Arts Market, Gator Bowl Game, and other major events. 

 

THIS INFORMATION WAS COMPILED BY RADIO SPORTS TALK HOST AND JACKSONVILLE GIANTS TELEVISION PLAY BY PLAY ANNOUNCER RICHARD MILLER.  AT 26, RICHARD MILLER IS THE YOUNGEST RADIO SPORTS TALK HOST IN THE NATION.  HIS SHOW, MILLER ON SPORTS, AIRS WEEKDAYS FROM 4:00 TO 6:00 P.M. ON AM 1600 – THE BEACH.  LISTEN TO MILLER ON SPORTS.   “EVERYTHING ELSE IS JUST TALK.”  All photographs and images are the property of Miller On Sports.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 

Photos by:  B.L. Miller

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