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Plans are changing for some popular winter events

The Art Shanty Projects on Lake Harriet are "beached" this year because the ice isn't strong enough to hold them.

MINNEAPOLIS — From ice anglers to winter event organizers, people are paying close attention to the ice thickness of area lakes. That's because the last snowstorm to hit the metro left behind a cozy blanket over the ice, insulating it. Then temperatures warmed up a bit.

Erin Lavelle is the artistic director for Art Shanty Projects, a four-weekend winter art festival on Lake Harriet.

"It erased the ice we had," Lavelle said. "The site of our village, which is 300 feet from shore, is only at six inches of good ice now … The shanties can weigh up to 1,500 pounds. That weight, plus the weight of the crowds, we really need at least ten inches."

Now organizers are moving to what they call "Plan Beach."

"It's our fun way of saying we have a Plan B," Lavelle said. "We'll be along the lake shore and also nestled into areas throughout the whole Bandshell Park. This is the first time in this location that we've had to do this."

As artists move from lake to land, the Luminary Loppet is moving calendar dates.

"It's a candlelit walk around Lake of the Isles," said Abby Delaney, sponsorship director for the Loppet Foundation. "We have like a magical lit forest and we have hot cocoa stops along the way. We have over 16,000 people that come out onto the lake."

Typically held in late January, the event is now scheduled for Saturday, February 18.

"We have had to make the difficult decision to postpone our biggest fundraiser of the year, " Delaney said. "We'll give winter a little more time to do its thing and freeze up the lake before we put on the event."

In the meantime, there are several other winter events to attend. The Great Northern festival is hosting 65 events Jan. 25-Feb. 5 in Minneapolis and St. Paul. One of them is Sauna Village. The event is new this year and will be held at the Market at Malcolm Yards in Minneapolis' Prospect Park neighborhood.

"We're going to have 18 different saunas for people to experience along with cold plunge tubs," producer Jasa McKenzie said. "We're finding ways to both celebrate and embrace this really cold part of our lives … and enjoying this special season rather than hiding from it … because we're seeing that our climate is changing. Our lakes aren't freezing the way that we've been able to rely on."

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