Published On: Sat, Dec 19th, 2015

The Capital Eye, The Awakening, and The Gaylord National Harbor ICE! Winter Wonderland

Sometimes when I plan something for Najwa, I wonder if I secretly am really doing it for me. I mean, how can anyone not be fascinated with the idea of life-size sculptures all carved out of ice?

Najwa and I headed down to the National Harbor to satisfy our curiosity. We didn’t waste any time either, making a beeline for the Gaylord, dodging a massive crowd of people there for a cheerleading competition, finally making our way to the ticket booth, to find out it’s a time entry with the next available time being five hours later!

Well, since we had some time to kill, we explored. Fortunately they made it easy with a ton of other things to keep you bust. Unfortunately, it all cost money and Najwa didn’t bring any. An easy money trap is a merry-go-round. Kids absolutely have to ride it and it’s just cheap enough for parents not to say no.


Najwa knowing I would pay for a ride.


We walked around, bought a Christmas ornament for the tree; a wand that lit up, blinked, strobed, did other light tricks; checked out out the ginger bread houses but (I) decided not not make one ourselves at $60+; and a few other random holiday-themed things that I was trying to avoid because everything cost more than it should’ve.

So, to escape, I suggested we brave the cold and go out to the pier. Forgetting there’s this huge Ferris wheel that Najwa was absolutely going to want to ride. And even though have this thing about heights, well, so did I.





With still more time to kill, I just took Najwa to The Awakening sculpture and just let her play. It was a little chilly, but with all that running around, and a couple of hand warmers, it all worked out. I’m still a bit bitter about The District letting the National Harbor take The Awakening away from Hains Point, but whatever.




Eventually our time was approaching. We walked the entire hotel several times [it was crowded!], we sat around a lot, I avoided where you could build a ginger bread house, we sat around some more, until it was finally time.

Learn how Santa Claus started giving toys to good girls and boys in the retelling of the classic television special, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. Our ice sculptures and ice slides are fun for the whole family and part of Christmas on the Potomac at our National Harbor resort.

ICE! is an indoor winter wonderland featuring:

  • Walk-through holiday attraction, kept at a chilly 9 degrees
  • Two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures
  • Five ice slides
  • 7 individual rooms depicting the story of Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town
  • The Frostbite Factory – a live carving zone


Before entering the winter wonderland, we had to put on these parkas. Something about 9 degree temperatures aren’t necessarily that friendly.






Everywhere you’re reminded not to touch the ice. And everywhere the kids did just that. Fortunately no one thought to lick the ice; not while we were there at least.




The ice slide was cool.

At one point, while mesmerized by how they could create works of art, using ice, with such precision, I lost track of Najwa. My first thought was to just wait it out. Eventually I’ll hear her crying when she realizes I’m not next to her. But then, it dawned on me as I looked around. Every single person looked exactly the same unless you where looking them directly in the eyes. We all were wearing the same blue parka!

When I thought I saw Najwa, it was someone else’s kid. All these little Najwa-sized humans scurrying around wearing what Najwa was wearing! So, what if, she thought she was with me but it was a daddy-sized person wearing a big blue parka just like me!?

Fortunately, out the corner of my eye, I saw the knitted hat she was wearing, the one thing that made her stand out. She was patiently standing by the wall, looking around, probably confused by a room full of people who looked like me, wondering if I was walking with a child that I thought was her.

We looked at each other. Laughed. And all was good.

We’ll be back next year.


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About the Author

David Gaines

- David Gaines is a Washington, DC, resident transplanted from North Carolina whose dream career was a newspaper writer but settled for the recruiting industry and simply blogging about whatever thoughts crosses his mind.

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