Ice Castle Festival & Play Day

Ice Castle Festival & Play Day is Sunflower’s annual community celebration of Play + Nature + Art.

The highlight is a giant community ice castle build.

Remember Play? Blow bubbles, kick balls, roll hula hoops, build cardboard box houses, run through obstacle courses and play outside at our old-fashioned Play Day.

About the Ice Castle Each year, hundreds of children and adults from Sunflower’s programs work together to assemble over four hundred 12-pound ice blocks into a giant structure. Children then decorate the ice castle with colored water and their own frozen creations from home.

When: TBD for 2021
Where: Patch Reef Park, 2000 Yamato Rd, Boca Raton, FL 33431

BYOI (Bring Your Own Ice)! Many families freeze ice at home and bring it to the Festival to decorate the top of the Ice Castle. People freeze ice in different shapes – using plastic containers or creative items like rubber gloves – and add interesting objects. Some interesting items we’ve seen frozen into the homemade Ice Castle ice blocks: shells, flowers, leaves, watercolors, all types of beans, sardines, glitter, cake sprinkles and pine cones.

Ice Castle Through the Years (click to read more)

Ice Castles in South Florida? Yes, you heard that right! Building Ice Castles has been a Sunflower tradition for 25 years – since the very beginning – back before we were a nonprofit, back when we were still called Sunflower Project. Susan got the idea of building and decorating with ice, salt and water colors from her mentor, “preschool guru” and play advocate Bev Bos. From playful beginnings as a Seedlings project…

1993/1994 Seeds

One of the very first Ice Castles, circa 1993/1994

each year, Ice Castle has gotten bigger…

Seedlings Ice Castle Day 1997

Seedlings Ice Castle Day 1997

Ice Castle 1998

and bigger…

Ice Castle 2005

Ice Castle 2005

and bigger!

Three cheers for Ice castle 2010!!!

Three cheers for Ice castle 2010!!!

Our first Ice Castles started with around 50 blocks. This year we’ll be building with 400+ 12-pound blocks of ice to celebrate Sunflower’s 25th Anniversary of empowering families through play, nature and the arts. (That’s over 4,800 pounds of ice!) One year the Ice Castle was almost nonexistent. Susan forgot to order the ice, and Frank Cerabino – a Sunflower Board member at the time – saved the day by making a last-minute drive up to Riviera Beach to pick up 150 blocks of ice in his own van! The cost of all that ice adds up! For some years now the ice has been generously donated by one of our Sunflower families. Many thanks to Julie Kelly and Barry Goldman, parents of Luke and Ethan, for their ice sponsorship!

Ice Castle Day Traditions

Ice Castle construction is truly a community endeavor – it always has been. Everybody helps with the build, from the littlest kids all the way up to adults.

two girls with ice block 07


2012 more help


Another tradition: to add a personal touch to the castle, many families freeze ice in different shapes…

Ice frozen inside a glove... that is interesting! Normal plastic freezer containers work well too.

A different shape. 🙂 Water was colored and frozen inside a glove… Normal plastic freezer containers work well too.

and add interesting natural objects…

A sunflower! ...and beans.

Honeysuckle, a sunflower! …and beans.

One year, the older kids started the tradition of constructing ice beds.

Ice bed, 2006

Ice bed, 2006

Then, there’s the tradition of everybody – our whole Sunflower community – standing inside the completed castle for a group picture. The temperature is always so much cooler inside the castle, a pleasant surprise.

Ice Castle 2012

Ice Castle 2012. Smile! We’re all family!

And the best tradition of all: Susan! She’s the one who’s made this amazing experience possible every year for the past 25. Ice Castle Day usually takes place around the time of Susan’s birthday. 

Susan and Natalia at Ice Castle 2007

Susan and Natalia at Ice Castle 2007

———— Speaking of amazing experiences. As I looked through my old Ice Castle photos from years past, I picked up on one of my own family’s Ice Castle traditions: the obligatory shot of each of my South Florida-born daughters, as toddlers, mesmerized by the magic of… what in the world is this crazy cold stuff!? Such sweet memories.

2007 Suzie

Suzie at her first Ice Castle Day in 2007

Sierra in 2009

Sierra in 2009


You are invited!

You’re invited! The 2013 Ice Castle invitation was created using artwork from Sunflower kids. (Drawing credits: Suzie (blue), age 8. / Dante (pink), age 6. / Aidan (yellow), age 5. Design credit: Lucia Ramos)

© Jaime Greenberg and Sunflower Creative Arts Originally published on the Sunflower blog, 2013 Photos © Sunflower Creative Arts

Many thanks to our 2020 Ice Castle Festival and Play Day Sponsors!

If you are interested in a business sponsorship please call 561 501-6615 for the details.

Silver Sponsor

Shtulman Family Chiropractic

Nationwide Interpreter Resource, Inc.

Power Design

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An audio story about the Sunflower’s annual building of a giant castle made of ice and what participating means to the members of our community.

Recording and production by Dylan Peers McCoy Seedlings alumna
Music by Oskar Schuster (Sneeuwland)
Speaking: Susan Caruso, Lora McCoy, Kevin, Julia, Courtney Salamone, and Andreas.

The First Ice Castle

Dylan Peers McCoy helping to build Sunflower’s very first Ice Castle (she’s wearing the hat and gloves) when she was a Seedling.

Make a donation to help us keep this wonderful tradition alive

If you are interested in a business sponsorship please email [email protected] for the details.


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Donation Total: $25

Ice Castle Festival & Play Day in Pictures

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Ice Castle 2016

Ice Castle 2016

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Ice Castle 2016

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Ice Castle 2016

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Ice Castle 2016

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Ice Castle 2016

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Holden 2011


Ice Castle 2012

Ice Castle 2012

Ice Castle 2012

Ice Castle 2012

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