Sculptors craft snow statues at All-Nighter

HOUGHTON – In December, Michigan Tech students just wanted enough snow get the statues started. Wednesday night, they were ready for a break in the storm, and an opportunity to put the last gleaming touches on their Winter Carnival 2016 creations.

“The snow was good when we started. Now it’s kind of annoying,” said Delta Sigma Phi fraternity brother James Kristofic, whose team was working double-time at a large site just west of Wadsworth Hall. “Every time we do a detail, it gets covered up and we have to brush it off.”

In between the snow-that-finally-came and the snow-that-wouldn’t-stop, Mother Nature played another little trick with a final-week thaw that melted down some of the fancy detail work the Delt Sigs were counting on to wow the judges.

“The warm weather ruined some, but we still have some up our sleeve,” Kristofic said.

With a nearly-complete bear and elk overseeing operations, his brothers worked double time with shovels, hatchets and irons, turning a few parking-lots worth of snow into a Yellowstone National Park.

Across College Avenue, in front of the library, the sisters of Theta Chi Epsilon were counting on some pre-sculpted ice features that would be coming out of the freezer in the final hours before today’s 8 a.m. competition deadline, and hoping the snow quit before then so they’d stay shiny for the judges.

They had a campfire made of ice, a skier to schuss down their mountain, and an Olaf snowman, from the movie “Frozen.” Some features were frozen in molds before adding final touches, said Abbie May, but most were sculpted and stored to add last minute bling.

For the first time this year, May noted, sororities were going up against frats and other large groups in the snow statue judging. She was looking forward to her break to check out some of the competition.

“TKE is looking good,” she said. “I’m excited to walk around and see what everyone else is doing.”

It all looks like fun – for a while. But the big groups are a bit more committed than that. The Delt Sigs, for example, had logged 1,800 man-hours on their statue going into Wednesday. So why the massive commitment?

It’s a tradition, explained Alpha Gamma Delta’s Abi Bekemeier, something that’s passed on from class to class and generation to generation.

“We do it mostly for the alumni,” she said. “We have some alums staying in the house.”

Tom Fryzel and Dave Madden, onetime Tech roommates and class of ’86 Delta Upsilon fraternity brothers, came up from downstate with a group of friends, and said Winter Carnival remains all that they’d remembered.

Mostly, Carnival is about a couple days off and everybody having a good time, Fryzel said. But the frat did get a bit competitive in his day.

“We always wanted the perfect statue,” he remembered.


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