‘Great Snowman’ leads in online contest

In a month, the Great Snowman of Rotterdam has made quite a name for itself.
The Great Rotterdam Snowman.
The Great Rotterdam Snowman.

In a month, the Great Snowman of Rotterdam has made quite a name for itself.

What started as a family project at Jeff Older’s Donald Drive home has snowballed into a cross-country whimsical challenge for snowman of the month. The nearly 12-foot behemoth snow sculpture — now history — is on pace to trounce its equal-sized counterpart crafted by a group of University of Colorado alumni nearly 2,000 miles away.

“It’s the age old story of whose snowman is bigger,” said Bob Eckstein, the online competition’s moderator and author of the “History of Snowman: From the Ice Age to the Flea Market.”

For most of the month, the Great Snowman of Rotterdam remained in a tight race with its Rocky Mountain version in the poll on Eckstein’s blog, www.historyofthesnowman.com. With just three days left in the voting, Older’s creation has amassed more than 750 tallies, a clear majority over its closest challenger.

Eckstein, who also works as a cartoonist for The New Yorker, started offering a signed copy of his book last month to the snowman photo receiving the most votes from visitors to the site. He said the initial contest drew modest interest, but nothing like the flurry of activity he’s seen since Rotterdam and the University of Colorado alumni squared off.

“It’s funny,” he said. “They’ve gotten really passionate about their snowmen.”

Older’s creation was compacted with help from his five children on New Year’s Eve. The Olders took an atypical approach in their creation by first building a towering snow cone and then carving out the snowman.

They used an old blanket to fashion the Great Snowman’s scarf and cap and used a couple of large branches for arms, Christmas ornaments created the nose and buttons, while a pair of solar-powered walkway lights forged the snowman’s eyes; a section of black hose for its mouth.

“The hardest part about this was accessorizing it,” he said.

One of Older’s co-workers caught wind of his creation and snapped a picture, which made its way to Eckstein’s blog. At the time, the competition already had a picture of a snow giant.

Chris Moskoff and a group of 12 alumni from the University of Colorado at Boulder had undertaken their own snowman while attending a reunion at his parents’ cabin in Aspen in early December. After several nights of heavy snow, the group decided to build a simple snowman.

“One thing led to another and we had a 12-foot-tall snowman,” he said

Unlike the Olders, Moskoff’s group chose to build their creation using the traditional method. Each globe of snow used in the creation was hand-rolled; the group even built a ramp to place the torso.

“It was quite a feat even with that many people doing it,” he said.

Like the Olders, Moskoff took no shortcuts when it came to snowman accessories. The University of Colorado snowman boasts a soul patch on its chin, a pair of droopy eyebrows and even a drinking cup in one of its pine-branch arms.

“For the record, the beverage the snowman is holding up in his right hand [branch] is nonalcoholic,” remarks Eckstein on his blog.

When the two snowmen met up in cyberspace, the battle of words began. Proponents of the University of Colorado snowman argue the Great Rotterdam Snowman can’t possibly be as large.

“Of course, I try to remind them the size has nothing to do with the contest,” Eckstein said.

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