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.