Snowmen Left Behind: Record building attempt at Tech

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette The crowd puts the finishing touches on an apparent world record number of snowmen at Sherman Field Saturday. Builders made 2,228 snowmen in one hour, which will be the most ever if verified by the Guinness World Records.

HOUGHTON — “Does anybody need eyes?”

“Eyes and ears over here.”

In most contexts, that would be troubling to hear.

At Sherman Field Saturday, it was part of the fun.

Michigan Technological University set what appears to be a world record for the number of snowmen made in an hour Saturday, posting an unofficial tally of 2,228.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Builders Bonnie Gorman and Brenda Rudiger pose with volunteers Hattie Kinnisten and Melanie Thomas during the world record attempt Saturday at Sherman Field. Volunteers roamed the field with measuring sticks to ensure the snowmen met the 3-foot minimum.

That would break the world record of 2,036, set in Akabira, Japan.

The number would likely have been higher in more favorable conditions. The cold temperature forced builders to coax balls out of dry, powdery snow.

“We’re pressing everything hard up against the pile and then shaping it,” said Paul Smith of Hancock, who was making a snowman with his son, Jude, 10. With 20 minutes left to go, they were working on their fourth.

“So once we get the bottom, we’ll shape the mid (-section). So we just shape it once we get it solid. That’s all you can do. Necessity is the mother of invention.”

In the final minutes, Seth Kriz, a chemical engineering junior at Tech, was on his eighth snowman. It had gone smoothly, he said, once he developed a strategy.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Paul Smith of Hancock, left, builds a snowman at Sherman Field Saturday with his son, Jude, 10.

“It’s a mining town, and if you mine deep enough in the snow, we found the bottom layers are packed,” said Kriz, who had cleared a trench around him. “We cut out balls and stack them up.”

Kriz couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the winter.

“I think it’s fantastic,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun working together with friends, other community members, other students. It’s neat how it brings us all together.”

Physical requirements for the snowmen were:

•Three distinct vertical segments

•Be at least 3 feet in height

•Have eyes, arms and a nose

They also had to be handmade with using any tools.

Within minutes of the end, the more than 1,000 builders had cleared the field, leaving a massive, all-white tableau resembling history’s most lopsided chess match.

Splashes of color were soon to come. Volunteers swept the field afterward, carrying clickers and spray bottles. They marked each to prevent double counting. Those that met the qualifications were sprayed in green; others in red.

Whether the Guinness World Records’ final numbers will agree has yet to be seen. In reviewing documentation, Guinness can take up to 12 weeks, or more in peak periods, according to its website.