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Backyard idea transforms into ice castle kingdom

LINCOLN, N.H.(CBS NEWS) -- In the last week, millions of people in the East have been reminded just how brutal winter can be. But for one businessman, winter is the time to sit pretty in a kingdom of his own design.

Piece by piece, day and night, a colorful mountain is molded into a masterpiece. It is man made using icicles -- nearly a quarter-million of them.

"I've got to be one of the luckiest guys in the world," Brent Christensen, the man behind the stunning creation, told CBS News.

He said it began as a hobby seven years ago.

"The kids and I would go out and build igloos and ice rinks and I just was fortunate enough to stumble upon the idea of using icicles and spraying water as a way to build these structures," Christensen said.

It's moved from his backyard to now a $2 million business. This year four crews are creating ice parks in Canada, Utah, Minnesota and New Hampshire.

The work is totally dependent on the weather.

"When you are dancing with Mother Nature," Christensen said, "she leads."

Last year, warm weather closed his site in Utah after only three nights.

"It wasn't a total loss," Christensen recalled. "But we lost a lot of money."

This year, warm weather forced a late start in New Hampshire. Christensen's team of 20 artisans worked 14-hour days for three weeks, spraying five million gallons of water in temperatures as low as two degrees.

"We're at now... about 2,000 to 3,000 man hours," he estimated.

Nearly complete, Christensen's ice castle weighs 25 million pounds and was built in the backlot of the Hobo Railroad in Lincoln, N.H.

"My family has been involved with the tourism business here in New Hampshire's White Mountains since 1928," Ben Clarke, an owner at the Hobo Railroad, told CBS News. "We always looked for new and exciting ways to captivate the public's interest and the Ice Castle has done just that."

Another business that benefits from the tourism traffic to Christensen's creation is the nearby ski resort, Loon Mountain.

"It's been here the last few years and every year it draws a ton of attention from local people and people from across the world," said Loon communications manager Greg Kwasnik. "That's a good thing if people are coming to the area and are interested."

It opened last weekend and offers chills and thrills for all ages.

"We've got slides, we've got mazes made out of ice, and slot canyons and little crawl tubes," Christensen described.

The park is open day and night, with the help of thousands of embedded LED lights.

"They go from a white to a blue to a green and we even have them synchronized to music periodically," Christensen said.

Work continues on the sculptures throughout the season. Some will grow to as high as 40 feet.

"To actually share it with other people and to also make a living from it, it's -- I can't think of anybody I'd want to trade places with."

He's the king of ice castles -- even if his reign only lasts as long as nature allows.

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