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Snowzilla's home in the winter

Snowzilla's home in the winter

Well, let’s hope by the time this column prints, we will have seen the last of the snow fall for this season. Then again, you never know what will happen in our area. Some seasons we barely get enough to cover the ground; other seasons we have white stuff piled up and weather cold enough to keep it intact for weeks.

If you’re talking about Alaska, however, you can count on having a lot of snow.

The average snowfall each season in Anchorage is 57 inches. The record snowfall there is 111 inches. That’s enough to make one heck of a snowman, and that’s just what Billy Ray Powers of Anchorage and his children did in 2005.

Their snowman was so big that they used up all the snow in their yard. Then they used snow from neighbors’ yards, filling buckets and pulling them to his house by sled. When the 16-foot-tall giant was done, with beer bottle eyes and holes drilled to insert arms, he was given a name — Snowzilla.

The mammoth snowman showed up bigger and better in 2006 and was on his way to returning in 2008. In December, while Snowzilla was under construction, Powers was given a cease-and-desist order from the Anchorage city council. It seems Snowzilla had attracted lots of attention and traffic. It was becoming a public nuisance; the city was concerned Snowzilla would collapse and injure an innocent bystander.

Then, just before Christmas, the lump of snow in his yard was transformed overnight into the largest Snowzilla yet at 25 feet tall. Powers didn’t take credit for the construction. He claimed it must have been the magic in that old silk hat causing completion in just hours of the giant that usually takes a month to construct.

Last time I checked, Snowzilla was still standing, though dirtier and leaner than in December. Powers insisted his intent was to spread joy, by putting together the snowman with his seven children and by putting smiles on the faces of those who visited him.

Here I am, thousands of miles away and the story still puts a smile on my face as it has with each snowflake I have seen fall since I heard this story. Take a look at him yourself ( and see if you can do it without smiling!

The opinions expressed are solely the writer’s. Carrie Steinweg, mother of five, lives in Lansing. Her column alternates with that of Schererville mom Rebecca Bailey. Reach her at


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Giant snowman makes appearance in Alaska, growing every year. Ours fits on your wall.



For the past three years, a giant snowman named Snowzilla has magically appeared in the front yard in a residential neighborhood in Anchorage, Alaska. It has grown each year from a 16-foot-tall youngster in 2005 when it first appeared, to an impressive 25 feet in height last year.

Billy Powers, the father of seven children, claims to know nothing about the mysterious creature in his yard, but reports say his children are the giant’s creators, collecting snow from neighbors’ yards to build the snowman.

In 2008, city officials called Snowzilla a public nuisance due to a complaint from a neighbor because of increased traffic on the street from visitors.

Two of Powers’ sons reportedly recovered a football-sized heart from the melting snow in the spring of 2007 and kept it in a freezer until last winter.

”It is the heart and the magic that has made our sculpted snowman so special and seem so alive,” writes Dakota Powers, Billy’s daughter, on the snowman’s Web site.

Snowzilla’s trouble with the law became news last year when his story appeared in newspapers across the country. Since then, Snowzilla has become larger than life with his own Facebook and MySpace pages.

To see photos of Snowzilla, visit the Web site at

There is no word on whether Snowzilla will return this year, so I made a snowman wall hanging in his honor using a plain wooden cutout by Darice I found in a local craft store. Use these directions to paint and decorate the snowman.

Supplies you will need:

• One wooden snowman cutout.

• Acrylic paint in Christmas red, green, orange and white.

• Paint brushes.

• Black Scribbles 3-dimensional paint.

• Red and gold glitter.

• Twinkle snow writer.

• Textured snow.

• White glue.

Cover your work surface with newspapers.

Paint the letters ”J” and ”Y” green and let dry. Paint the hat and the letter ”O” red and the holly leaves on the hat green. Paint the face white and the nose orange.

When everything is dry, brush a layer of glue on the red portion of the hat. While the glue is wet, pour red glitter on the glue. Let dry. When dry, turn the snowman on its side to shake off loose glitter.

Follow the same instructions to put gold glitter on the trim on the hat. Let dry.

Brush glue onto the white portions of the face and use a craft stick to apply a layer of textured snow to the face.

Use black Scribbles paint to fill in the mouth and eyes.

Use twinkle snow writer to dab on snowflakes on the letters and white berries on the leaves.

Let dry completely before you move.


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Dakota Powers is the daughter of Billy Ray Powers and lives in Anchorage

Dakota Powers is the daughter of Billy Ray Powers and lives in Anchorage

Building a snowman downtown at the railroad depot will not be the same as Snowzilla, no matter how much city officials try to claim it will be.

By Dakota Powers

The Snowzilla that resides in my front yard is a member of my family. He is unique, and an absolute replica would never be possible. The magic is in the warm heart of this cold giant.

Three years ago, when Snowzilla first rose, he started as any other snowman my brothers had made.

Bundled warmly and armed with shovels, gloves and the holiday spirit, the boys set out. Standing at about 8 or 9 feet (almost 13 with the hat), the snowman was impressive but nowhere near its ultimate height. My siblings were proud of their piece of artwork.

Then two weeks later, a warm Chinook wind blew in and the southern side of the snow sculpture dripped to the ground. The boys, determined to resurrect the big guy, marched out to our front yard to get to work. My Dad and neighbor witnessed the advance and recommended filling the bottom and middle balls together to make the whole thing bigger, “Better double up and catch up,” — a Billy Powers statement if there ever was one.

The fresh snow was moist and packable, the sleds and buckets were out, and neighborhood kids were ready and willing. My sister, not so much for the cold and with a new sewing machine, set to work stitching and stuffing mittens and a nose. The hat was a clothes hamper glued to a hover disc, and the corncob pipe was a soup can and sawed off ski pole.

The first Snowzilla rose to 16 feet and was warmed by a 24-foot scarf. For two weeks, our front door was swinging open and the front entry draped with wet snowsuits slowly drying and gloves warming on the wood stove. Rosy-faced children came in and out to warm up and go to the bathroom, each time taking what seemed like days getting in and out of their winter clothes. With the holiday spirit of a child, my Dad conducted the project and packed snow along with all the other kids and neighbors. It was quite an accomplishment, and the snowman lasted well into April.

It was in mid-May when Snowzilla had finally melted down to a chunk of ice about the size of a football. The mass was dirty and rough where it rested in the sandbox — the same sandbox my Dad had built when I was only four.

My brothers Jack and Tucker rushed into the house wearing tennis shoes, shorts and T-shirts carrying the last of their snowman. “We have Snowzilla’s heart!” they announced and promptly placed it in the freezer. It waited there among the frozen hamburger and peas until the next winter, when we took it out and placed it at the very base of the next Snowzilla. It is the heart and the magic that has made our sculpted snowman so special and seem so alive.

Snowmen can be built downtown at the railroad depot and could easily equal or surpass the height of Snowzilla — but they would never equal what he brings to our family and families around the world. A commercialized snowman would not produce the same joy and sense of community that Snowzilla brings. Snowmen are intimate personal creations. None of those snowmen would have the exceptional connection with people; they do not have the heart.


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We have just opened the online Snowzilla Support Shop.

All proceeds go to the Snowzilla cause!

Many items have been added, and we are currently working to make more items with other Snowzilla related designs.
The items come in various colors and sizes.

Here is an example:

Black Save Snowzilla T-Shirt, available in our Snowzilla Support Shop

Black Save Snowzilla T-Shirt, available in our Snowzilla Support Shop


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jay-thomasToday Snowzilla creator Billy R. Powers and creator Jens Christensen were interviewed on the Jay Thomas show on Sirius Satellite and XM radio, NY.

You can hear the replay of the show and interview on Sirius Satellite and online on from 8.00pm ET.

Go Snowzilla!

Check out Jay Thomas at

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Chapter one of a multipart series featuring Snowzilla, Anchorage’s favorite giant snowman. In this first chapter, we see Snowzilla’s 3 lawyers walking to City Hall. Stay tuned for chapter 2, “Snowzilla Meets the Mayor.”

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Festival’s version would be even taller

The first thing he’ll need is a name. 

Frosty Kong?


Or maybe just “Son of Snowzilla.”

Indeed, the city is likely to face another giant snowman this winter. But unlike the renegade Snowzilla — that 25-foot behemoth that appeared in Airport Heights last week despite a city ban — this one has the mayor’s blessing.

The plan is to create a snowman as tall, or taller, than Snowzilla in Ship Creek as part of the annual Fur Rendezvous winter festival, Rondy board president Ernie Hall said Tuesday.

“We’d like to make it huge,” he said.

As of Tuesday, Hall hadn’t compared notes with Billy Ray Powers, father of the guerrilla Snowzilla on Columbine Street. Powers’ snowman is roughly 25 feet tall and, according to the city, a safety hazard and public nuisance in a neighborhood that’s too small for giant snowmen.

The city says Powers amassed a whopping pile of fines and assessments, his place appears to be a junkyard and he’s rebuked the city’s efforts to work with him. Powers describes himself as “a welder and hobby blacksmith, a father and a gardener.” He says the city’s harassing and slandering him, and that it’s city officials, not him, who refuse to negotiate.

Throw in a towering snowman in a top hat and you have a tale that swept the country this holiday season.

Snowzilla was an Internet hit for a time and a stream of cars and gawkers flock to see him each day. He’s got his own Web site and T-shirts, and someone built a cluster of elf-sized snowmen “protesters” outside City Hall last week.

Fur Rondy is looking to capture some of that magic as the festival continues trying to reinvent itself from a fading tradition to a contemporary, can’t-miss attraction. For 2008, the festival added the “Running of the Reindeer” — which is exactly what it sounds like — downtown.

This winter, Hall hopes to see the festival begin building its own giant snowman as early as late January, in time to welcome the annual snow sculpture contest held near the Alaska Railroad each year.

Meantime, Fur Rondy, which officially runs from Feb. 27 to March 8, could hold a contest encouraging people to build their own snowmen — regular, not super-sized — in front yards across the city.

Hall said he’s talked to the railroad and to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich about the plan.

It’s easy to imagine this new snow giant emerging as Snowzilla’s rival. His very own Mothra.

But Hall said that’s not the idea and hopes Powers will be involved in the Fur Rondy project, perhaps helping to create the new snow giant while demolishing Snowzilla back in Airport Heights.

“We would be thrilled to death if he said, ‘Gosh, this is a great opportunity and I would love to build a bigger and better one down in the railroad yard,’” Hall said.

He asked a reporter for Powers’ phone number.

The Fur Rondy board still has to approve the idea at its next meeting in January, but Hall said he’s talked to other members and is “99 percent” sure the plan will proceed.

Powers, meantime, hadn’t heard Hall’s idea Tuesday night.

Sounds like the city wants to take away his snowman but capitalize on its popularity, he said. (Technically, Fur Rondy is its own independent nonprofit, though it gets some funding from the city.)

Still, Powers said, “Any time anyone talks about building a snowman, I’m all for it.”

In fact, each snowman is an original work of art. That’s why the Fur Rondy snow giant shouldn’t share the Snowzilla name.

“Why would you make a painting of a beautiful woman and name it the ‘Mona Lisa?’ ” Powers asked.  


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Billy Ray Powers have sent us the following pictures.

Snowzilla's home in the summer with the youngest of the Powers seven children.

Snowzilla's home in the summer with the youngest of the Powers seven children.


Snowzilla's home in the winter, the black boxes that you see in front of Snowzilla are flower boxes in summer.

Snowzilla's home in the winter, the black boxes that you see in front of Snowzilla are flower boxes in summer.



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Every year for the past three years a massive snowman has risen from Billy Power’s yard in Anchorage, Alaska. Starting out at nearly 16 feet tall his first year, the snowman has grown larger each year reaching a whopping estimated 25 feet this year. As might be expected, the snowman, dubbed “Snowzilla,” has annually drawn large crowds of admirers to the east Anchorage neighborhood he calls home. But this year the city government of Anchorage has chosen to bravely step forward to protect their fair city from Snowzilla.

The city tacked a cease-and-desist order on Billy Power’s front door deeming Snowzilla a nuisance and a hazard to the neighborhood. And yet somehow – mysteriously – Snowzilla still arose this year bigger and better than ever. Powers takes no personal credit for the latest incarnation of Snowzilla; when asked how the giant snowman got there, he replied, “Magic.” So how long will it be before the SWAT team is mobilized to deal with such an affront to public safety?

It’s not a facetious question. Implicit in every law, ordinance, statute, and code is a mechanism for enforcement which, taken to its logical end, allows the state or municipality to use increasing amounts of coercion up to and including lethal force, if necessary, against the non-compliant. This is worth remembering when government at any level seeks to “protect” us with official actions from “monsters” that seem to exist primarily in the minds of busybodies who are eager to use their power to control, intimidate or inconvenience citizens who dare think outside the box. Safety is fast becoming an Orwellian buzzword for justifying increased government control at all levels.

It doesn’t appear that any official move is afoot to address the nuisance of those appreciative spectators caused by Anchorage homeowners who decorate their homes so beautifully with Christmas lights. So why single out Powers? Part of the answer may lie in the fact that Powers has been a target of city code enforcers for some time now over what the city calls “land use violations” involving his business which have earned him nearly $100,000 in fines. In spite of his friction with city hall, Powers has managed to keep his sense of humor intact as the city considers its next move.

But how far can a man be pushed? The city of Kirkwood, Missouri, found out the hard way about a year ago when they annexed an unincorporated area and imposed their codes on a business owner named Charles Lee Thornton, hitting him with tens of thousands of dollars in fines for doing things exactly the same as he had legally done for the previous 20 years. They threw him out of city council meetings; they beat his lawsuit in court and it finally ended when he walked into city hall and killed 6 people including the mayor. There is no justification for Charles Thornton’s murderous rampage – he acted like a government, after all – but the $64,000 question remains: Were the city’s actions really necessary to protect rights and serve justice?

The truth is that many of the monsters from which government claims to be protecting us are those of its own creation.

By Bryan Hyde, a talk radio host and graduate student at George Wythe University in Cedar City, Utah.

Copyright © 2008

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Consider them Snowzilla’s army.

snowzilladestryedA group of snowman protesters — apparently rallying in support of the towering Anchorage outlaw — appeared on Christmas Day in front of City Hall. They carried signs that read “Snowzilla needs a bailout” and “Snowmen have rights too.”

Snowzilla creator Billy Ray Powers said he had nothing to do with the protest, though he saw the snowmen last night while passing through downtown.

“They’re cute as can be,” he said.

Today the remains of the protesters lay in frozen pieces. Their signs sat in a nearby Dumpster.

City Manager Mike Abbott said the building’s super removed them. Employees at the Kaladi Brothers across the street say it was the security guards.

The city is battling Powers — whom city officials say has long stored junk and ignored land use rules, to the dismay of his Airport Heights neighbors — over whether the giant Snowzilla he builds each year is a safety hazard or good holiday fun.

A small, misshapen snowman protester appeared in front of City Hall earlier this week. Reinforcements arrived Thursday.

As for what happens now, city spokeswoman Jenny Evans said one option is to negotiate a deal with Powers that would allow him to build Snowzilla for a few weeks each year rather than let it stand for months at a time.

City Manager Abbott said, “All of it requires sort of a good-faith effort on Mr. Powers to work with the city, and his neighbors to figure out some way to accommodate what he wants to do, and what’s legally allowed in that area.”

Powers says the city has never tried to work with him before and ought to pass an anti-snowman law if it wants to get rid of Snowzilla.

There will be no negotiations, he said.

Find Kyle Hopkins online at or call him at 257-4334.

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