In every movie featuring snow, there are some incredible snowmen created. There are snowball fights featuring the roundest balls of snow that are simply perfect for throwing and there are kids leaving snow angels and darting down hills at incredible speeds beside a beautiful ice rink. This is not the reality I am used to. When it snows in Ireland, roads become dangerous, my water pipes freeze, and if I try throwing a snowball at someone it either accidentally has a rock inside and they cry or it is a useless form of snow that doesn’t really become a ball at all. For a long time, I thought the movies were lying to me, that they were sending out some snow propaganda that simply wasn’t true. I recently stumbled across the creations of three brothers and their work made me believe in the beauty of snow again.
The Bartz brothers come from New Brighton, Minnesota, and every year when the snow arrives they create massive snow sculptures. To date, they have made sea turtles, sharks, fish, octopus, walrus, snails, lobster, and a pufferfish. The incredible sculptures are like nothing you have seen before. They are sometimes as big as a truck and are sturdy enough that the boys can sit on top of them. The recent turtle creation was so big that the shell alone looked like an igloo and if the boys had carved out the inside it probably would have functioned as one.
The octopus though is my personal favorite, the long legs reaching out in different directions with one going over the house and the large bulbous head that loos big enough to swallow the youngest Bartz brother is just an incredible piece of work.
The level of detail included is incredible too. The animals created look incredibly lifelike (with the obvious issues of size and snow material). The skin of the turtle has many repeated textures throughout and the octopus has all of the pods on the bottom of his tentacles. This was no quick task.
The boys do these sculptures in their own front yard and while people would probably pay them to do it, they are happy to do it for free. They see it as their way to give back to the community and as they are devoutly religious people, they see it as a way to praise their god.
They do accept donations for their work but they don’t take it as a profit. Instead, they use that money to help those who need it. Most recently they used the donations to help five villages in Uganda. They planned to build five water points, one in each village to provide fresh water to the area.
The boys have a great rapport with the local community too. They run a competition each year on who can guess when the biggest sculpture will melt. This year a young woman won by correctly guessing April 29th as the death of the Walvis the whale. She won a T-shirt for her trouble.
Due to the coronavirus, the boys are not building any sculpture this year. It usually attracts large crowds so they felt it would be safer and smarter to take a break this winter. The good news is that it means they will be refreshed and ready to go next Christmas. We can’t wait to see what their idea is.
While I still can’t build a snowman it is amazing to see what others can do with such simple materials. It is no surprise to learn that two of the boys are landscapers and if we were in the area we would certainly hire them for our garden.