11 a.m.-8 p.m. Jan. 27-29
Gateway Park, Navy Pier, Chicago
You probably already know that no two snowflakes are exactly
alike. But head to Navy Pier, and you'll see that sculptures made
out of snow are just as unique.
Each year at Snow Days Chicago, 15 teams of professional
sculptors carve 10-foot-tall blocks of ice into elaborate
creations, everything from architectural wonders to mythical
beasts. The teams, who come from as far away as India, plan their
sculptures ahead of time, but have 3½ days to complete the work of
Teams have nature to contend with, since January in Chicagoland
can range from clear and frigid to murky and just plain cold.
Fortunately, the blocks of snow are made ahead of time by using a
ski-resort-style snow gun, which shoots the pre-frozen snow into a
plywood box. The snow is periodically stomped down to make sure the
snow is compact and free of air pockets.
Starting Wednesday, the teams work on their sculptures, with the
top three winners announced Saturday afternoon.
Snow Days is not just about snow sculpting, though, with
spectator activities like dog-sledding and snowboarding, and
activities for kids, such as an ice slide and ice bowling.
Fran Volz, a professional snow sculptor who helps organize the
event, began his career in his own front yard in Arlington Heights.
He says snow sculpting is not that hard, if you have a bit of
talent and a lot of drive.
In fact, families can try their hand at snow sculpting by
filling a garbage can or refrigerator box with snow, packing it
down and letting it sit overnight, and removing the outside
Then use items found in your home-Volz recommends kitchen items
like butter knives and spoons and gardening and workshop tools-and
But there are a few things you'll want to buy before starting
your new artistic venture:
"You might want to invest in about three or four pairs of
gloves," he says.
And? "Wear a coat."
Elizabeth Diffin is the senior editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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