AMHERST, N.S. – If you want to make a snowman, or maybe even a snow sculpture, conditions have to be just right.
“Sometimes I say, ‘today is a good day to make a snowman but maybe I’ll get at it tomorrow’ but you’re not going to get at it tomorrow because the snow changes.”
Daren White knows first-hand the many challenges facing snowman makers.
As the creator of The Great Canadian Snowman Challenge, White has seen it all.
“I started my wolf snow sculpture in the morning because there was good packing snow and it took me about three hours to build it,” said White. “By the end of the third hour, I was finding it hard to make a snowball because the water sinks to the bottom and the top becomes dry again and you have to dig to the bottom to find good packing snow.”
White started The Great Canadian Snow Challenge four years ago.
People are encouraged to build a snowman, take a photo of it, post it onto Facebook and send $10 to White for the Cancer Society.
White puts $100 aside and, at the end of the snowman making season - usually April 1 - people vote on their favourite snowman, and the winner receives $100.
“In the last four years we’ve raised about $1,000,” said White.
Last year’s winners were two girls who made snowmen out of marshmallows.
“They wanted to participate in the challenge but every time they went outside to try to build a snowman it kept falling apart,” said White. “They went back into the house and made snowmen with marshmallows and toothpicks.”
Each girl received $50 after receiving the most votes.
“One girl gave it back to the Cancer Society, and the other gave back to another charitable organization.”
White says finding perfect conditions isn’t easy.
“There’s some people who have gone out at 11 p.m. because the snow is good. It’s just to get people outdoors. It doesn’t cost anything.”
White has had submissions from throughout the world.
"I’ve had a snowman from Washington, I had a snowman from Texas, I had a snowman from Nunavut and I had a snowman from England.”
Closer to home, a Cumberland County woman built a snowman on the beach when the tide was out.
“When the tide came in it was standing there surrounded by water,” said White. “It looked really cool.”
Like all snow sculptures, White’s wolf succumbed to the force of nature, but there is still a mound of snow that can be used for a new snow sculpture.
“Now it’s melted and I have a good base that I’m going to use for other things,” said White. “I really want to make an owl because the owl has really neat feathers. So, he’s going to come back to life.”
His next big sculpture will be a dragon.
“It could have a green back, a big yellow front, and a cartoony face.”
He also has plans for a new snowman-making competition in addition to The Great Canadian Snowman Challenge. It would start in Amherst and, if successful, expand to other communities in Cumberland County.
“I want to make a street sign that says Snowman Lane, and if there’s a time period where we get a perfect amount of snow and snow conditions I would I’d like to see which street could build the most amount of snowmen,” said White. “I don’t care if one person builds all of the snowmen on your street but the street with the most snowmen would get to put the Snowman Lane sign on the end of their street and it would stay.”
The sign will stay but, unfortunately, the snowmen won’t.
“It’s temporary. It’s not like a carving that’s going to be there forever. Snowman and snow sculptures could be there one night,” said White.
But White does have one trick he uses to help prevent melting.
“When I’m all done making a snow sculpture I spray it with a light mist of water because it makes a nice shield on it that makes it last a little longer.”