Snow Days...

If you recall, just a few days ago I was rather unhappy with the Mayor's Office of Special Events for their decision to reinvent Chicago's annual 4th of July celebration. Frankly, I'm still perturbed about that entire state of affairs, and I'm leaving the MOSE on notice for now, but they have redeemed themselves slightly in my estimation after staging the annual Snow Days Festival over the weekend, right across the street from my apartment building.

While Chicago is better known for its numerous summer street festivals, we do not let a little cold stand in the way of enjoying a little outdoor entertainment. After all, our most-famous son, President Obama once said that Chicagoans are a people of "flinty toughness" when it comes to the weather. In evidence of that statement, the city throws a the Snow Days Festival in the dead of winter, consisting mostly of a snow sculpture competition and related activities such as dog-sledding demonstrations and the creation of an man-made hill for human sledding.

Ironically, in all the years that I've been aware of its existence, the festival has fallen after a period of thaw has melted all the snow, such that there is no actual snow on the ground, and all the snow for the sculptures and the artificial sledding run must be artificially generated. Still, even if the weather fails to cooperate, the sculptures are quite the sight to behold. When I was little, I would hassle my father every time there was a significant snowfall to go outside and build a snowman with me. I only recall succeeding a scant number of times, and from what I can remember, our creations most definitely had nothing on the impressive artistry that I observed on Saturday:

This sculpture was inspired by Chicago's "Windy City" moniker. It features our trademark skyscrapers and a hat taken away by the strong breeze off the lake.

I was blow away by the engineering present in this statue of a lantern, my favorite piece in the show. I marveled at how the columns held up the heavy-looking roof, and apparently, so did the other festival-goers. This sculpture took second place in the contest.

Snow sculpture festivals are popular throughout Asia, and the top prize went to this creation from a professional snow sculpture team from China. I was struck both by the impressive detailing in her costume, the smoothness they were able to achieve on their surfaces, and the expressiveness of the statue's eyes.

A sideview of the sculpture.

I also liked this sculpture of sea turtles in a coral reef. As with the lantern sculpture, I was impressed by their use of negative space and precarious sense of balance. Plus, check out my building in the background -- how many people are lucky enough to enjoy this kind of artistry in their own front yard?


  1. How cool is that? Even I would have suffered the cold weather to check it out. By the way, I'm sure your mom made plenty of snowmen with you. Isn't she Head of Snow Removal in the Licata House? Surely she played a little?!?

  2. I'm pretty sure she was sick of snow removal and told me to ask my dad. I think Mom was in charge of the indoor components of snowman construction, like sourcing carrots, buttons, and winter apparel with which to decorate them.

  3. Those sculptures are amazing! I can honestly say I don't think i ever built a real snowman. And so far, Jalen is following my lead. Unless jason goes out with him, he too will remain snowmanless.