HOUGHTON - With the relatively late snowfall in the Hancock and Houghton area, contestants in the Michigan Technological University Winter Carnival statue-building contest are hurrying to complete their creations by the Feb. 7 judging day, but ironically, cold temperatures are slowing the process.
Steven Saliga, Winter Carnival statues chair, said when the wind chill hits minus 18 degrees, builders are told to stop working until temperatures rise.
"We say no because the risk of frostbite is high," he said.
Gazette file photo
Members of Theta Chi Epsilon sorority construct a snow statue outside the J.R. Van Pelt and Opie Library on the Michigan Technological University campus in advance of Winter Carnival 2012. Statue builders have been hindered this year due to the extreme cold temperatures.
Stoppage of construction is enforced by members of the statue committee, who make rounds of the construction sites.
The wind chill Tuesday at noon was minus 22 degrees, so construction was stopped, but Saliga said it was possible it could resume between 4 and 5 p.m.
Saliga said most builders comply with the stop-working order.
"A lot of the groups don't want to go out and work when it's that cold," he said.
Because of that, Saliga said making certain no one is building during wind chill stoppage is also a fairness issue.
"You can build a statue extremely fast when it's cold out," he said.
The theme of Winter Carnival this year is "Heroes and Villains Find Their Powers, in These Frozen Winter Hours." Saliga said there are eight fraternities, five residence halls, seven student organizations and six women's groups taking part.
Although there was little snow at the start of month-long statue building, Saliga said in the past two weeks a good amount has fallen, and the builders are pleased.
"They're building more blocks than they normally would," he said. "They would all love more snow."
All-nighter statue construction begins at 4 p.m. Feb. 6.