Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Stacking Up 'Snowmy': Minocqua puts finishing touches on 30-foot-tall snowman after three-year hiatusSubmitted: 02/15/2018
Story By Lane Kimble

Stacking Up 'Snowmy': Minocqua puts finishing touches on 30-foot-tall snowman after three-year hiatus
MINOCQUA - If you're going to make a giant snowman, grab your shovels, snow fencing, and... chainsaws?  That's how they get the job done in Minocqua.

"It's something else," volunteer worker Jim Hartwig said.

Thursday morning, Hartwig -- who owns the nearby Aqua Aire Motel -- carefully walked the second tier of the 30-foot-tall snowman outside the Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce to finish a creation that hasn't appeared in a while.


"Seeing all the people driving by and waving, you know everybody's looking," Hartwig said.

It's tough to miss this big guy along Highway 51, who goes by the name Snowmy Kromer. The Ironwood, Michigan hat manufacturer Stormy Kromer makes his size-96 hat won the namesake in 2008, but the tradition of building the huge Minocqua snowman goes back to the mid-1960s.

"We're all a little tired," Chamber Executive Director Krystal Westfahl said with a sigh.

Westfahl organized the build and did a lot of the work, which takes about three days. She says the toughest part is packing the snow down after an excavation company piled it up. Volunteers mainly do so using their feet.

"It takes a bunch of people to essentially 'stomp the grapes' around the outside, that's what we always say we're doing," Westfahl said.

"Snowmy's" base measures about 30 feet across and eight-feet high. The three ascending layers get smaller reaching to a peak of 30 feet at the top of the snowman's head. That means crews need to use a bucket truck to put the Stormy Kromer on top.

A team of six to eight helpers can build the snowman, but it takes a key supply. Recent winters were too warm, which meant there wasn't enough snow to build "Snowmy" since early 2015.

"We were just lucky enough that we had accumulated enough snow up to now," Westfahl said.

While people's backs are crying "uncle" from shoveling snow, Minocqua is celebrating it this month.

"Anything that brings attention to the area is always helpful," Hartwig said.

The people here know the return of the "granddaddy of all snowmen" means plenty of winter-weather business returning to town, too.

"The name of the game is just to entertain the people that are coming up for the weekend and want to see something new and interesting," Westfahl said.

Westfahl hopes "Snowmy" lasts until early April when they'll knock him down for safety. Until then, the Chamber wants people to take as many pictures with the snowman as they can.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House on Sunday broadened its travel ban against countries hard-hit by the coronavirus by denying admission to foreigners who have been in Brazil during the two-week period before they hoped to enter the U.S.

President Donald Trump had already banned travel from the United Kingdom, Europe and China. He said last week that he was considering similar restrictions for Brazil.

The U.S. leads the world in the number of confirmed cases, followed by Brazil, now Latin America's hardest-hit country. Third on the list is Russia.

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany cast Trump's latest move as one designed to "protect our country."

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Most people understand the grief that comes with losing a loved one, now grieving families are coping with new restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"Death still occurs even if this pandemic is going on or not," said Carlson Funeral Home Owner Bruce Carlson.

As COVID-19 cases spread across the nation, disrupting daily routines for many Americans.

Carlson said the growing numbers of U.S. businesses and families changed how most Americans deal with the dead.

"Most people have chosen to wait if there intends to be or was a traditional burial," said Carlson.

Prior guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for safety precautions regarding the embalming process and the amount of people allowed in gatherings.

+ Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) - Much of the country remains unlikely to venture out to bars, restaurants, theaters or gyms anytime soon, despite state and local officials across the country increasingly allowing businesses to reopen, according to a new survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

That hesitancy in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak could muffle any recovery from what has been the sharpest and swiftest economic downturn in U.S. history. Just 42% of those who went to concerts, movies, theaters or sporting events at least monthly before the outbreak say they'd do so in the next few weeks if they could. Only about half of those who regularly went to restaurants, exercised at the gym or traveled would feel comfortable doing so again.

About a quarter of Americans say someone in their household has lost a job amid that downturn, and about half have lost household income, including layoffs, pay cuts, cut hours or unpaid time off. The majority of those whose household suffered a layoff still believe they will return to their previous employer, but the share expecting their job will not return has risen slightly over the past month, to 30% from 20%.

Amber Van Den Berge, a teacher in Indiana, held off on immediately returning to her second job as a fitness instructor. She would need to pass a test for COVID-19, get her temperature checked each morning and lead class while wearing a protective mask.

"Wear a mask to teach a fitness class? I'm not ready for that," said Van Den Berge, 39.

The speed and strength of any economic rebound could be thwarted because many fear the risk of new infections. Consumers make up roughly 70% of U.S. economic activity, so anything less than a total recovery in spending would force many companies to permanently close and deepen the financial pain for 39 million people who have lost jobs in roughly the past two months.

Forty-nine percent of Americans approve of how President Donald Trump is handling the economy, the poll shows. That has slipped over the last two months, from 56% in March. Still, the issue remains a relative positive for Trump, whose overall approval rating stands at 41%.

Trump has at times downplayed the threat of the coronavirus and the benefits of testing and has criticized the leadership of Democratic governors. Meanwhile, many Democratic lawmakers have insisted on the importance of containing the disease and sustaining the economy with federal aid.

Greg Yost, a Republican from Rockaway, New Jersey, says he wishes the president would defer more to medical experts, rather than speak off the cuff. But he added that he thinks Trump believes he must defend himself against personal attacks.

"He's between a rock and a hard place," Yost said.

But ShyJuan Clemons, 45, of Merrillville, Indiana, says Trump has made the fallout from the pandemic worse by initially denying its dangers and failing to display much empathy for those hurt by the coronavirus.

"Even my cat knows that he's terrible," said Clemons, referring to his 14-year-old Siamese mix, Shinji.

Clemons works with special needs people and worries about his hours if Indiana -- starved of tax revenues because of the disease -- cuts its budget.

But it also shows how an atmosphere of political polarization may be feeding both an eagerness by some to return and a reluctance by others to resume their previous lifestyles.

Among those who did so at least monthly before the outbreak, Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to say they'd go to restaurants (69% to 37%), movies, concerts or theaters (68% to 28%), travel (65% to 38%) and go to a gym or fitness studio (61% to 44%).

Sixty-nine percent of those who regularly shopped in person for nonessential items before the outbreak, including majorities among both parties, say they'd be likely to wander malls and stores again. But Republicans are more likely to say so than Democrats, 82% to 61%.

Yost expressed no qualms about going out because he believes the economic damage from shelter-in-place orders will be worse than the deaths from the disease.

"What's going to happen with depression, homelessness -- a lot of other problems are going to arise because we shut down the economy?" said Yost, a vice president of operations at an insurance agency. "I would go to a restaurant and feel comfortable with my kids and not even have masks on."

Still, there's an exception to the partisan divide, with 76% of Republicans and 69% of Democrats who get haircuts on at least a monthly basis saying they'd do that in the next few weeks if they could.

The poll finds an overwhelming majority of Americans, 70%, describe the economy as poor, but their outlook for the future is highly partisan. Sixty-two percent of Republicans expect improvement in the coming year, while 56% of Democrats say it will worsen.

At the same time, two-thirds of Americans say their personal finances are good, which has remained steady since before the outbreak began.

Many families have been able to survive the downturn because of aid such as direct payments to taxpayers and expanded unemployment benefits that will expire in July.

Mitchell Durst, 74, has watched the job losses from the sidelines as a retired mathematician in Keyser, West Virginia.

He was already cautious about going out because of a compromised immune system from cancer treatments. The disease stopped his weekly poker game. He lived through the polio crisis, dealt with gas rationing during the 1970s and worked in Nigeria during the Ebola scare.

He calculates the United States will need to be patient about an economic comeback.

"Until we have a vaccine, particularly for those folks at risk, it's going to be awhile," Durst said. "If we get something in two years, if we're so fortunate to be able to do that, I think that would be fantastic."

___

The AP-NORC poll of 1,056 adults was conducted May 14-18 using a sample drawn from NORC's probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

+ Read More

MADISON - Gov. Tony Evers today (Friday) congratulated the Class of 2020 on their graduation.

Students and their friends, families, and supporters across Wisconsin are celebrating this important accomplishment but are unable to participate in traditional graduation ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As folks continue to celebrate while staying safe, the governor offered his congratulations to the Class of 2020 and made a video for use in virtual ceremonies.

The speech is as follows:

"Hello Class of 2020! Governor Tony Evers here.

Congratulations! I am thrilled to share in this special occasion with all of you.

I know this year was a challenge. Many of you tackled your last few months of school from home, missing critical time with your friends, classmates, teammates, and teachers.

+ Read More

MADISON -  Gov. Tony Evers today (Friday) ordered the flags of the United States and the state of Wisconsin to be flown at half-staff for Memorial Day and encouraged Wisconsinites to honor Memorial Day and pay tribute to our fallen heroes safely.

"On behalf of the state of Wisconsin, I would like to honor the members of our nation's armed services who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and extend our heartfelt gratitude to the families and loved ones they left behind," said Gov. Evers. "We owe so much to the brave individuals who have given their lives in service of our country and our freedoms. Let us continue to honor their mark on history and our nation's future.

+ Read More

- Wisconsin National Guard specimen collection teams collected over 4,500 specimens May 21 and its cumulative total collected for COVID-19 testing topped 62,000 as 25 teams continue to operate across Wisconsin supporting local health departments and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services with COVID-19 testing efforts.

The teams, comprised of more than 600 Citizen Soldiers and Airmen in total, established mobile testing sites at locations ranging from correctional facilities and health clinics, to private businesses, and community-based testing sites.

+ Read More

MADISON, WIS. - In accordance with public health guidelines and safety recommendations, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is modifying current operations to maintain the safest environment for visitors and staff.

Beginning Saturday, May 23, all Wisconsin state park system properties will return to regular operating hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. Properties will no longer be closed Wednesdays.

In addition, a limited number of day-use area restrooms at park properties will reopen for public use beginning Wednesday, June 3.



+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: