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.

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