Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The magic of Faribo Frosty December 19, 2018

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WHEN I POSTED ABOUT #faribofrosty last week, a blogger and reader from Pittsburgh asked for under-construction photo documentation of the mega snowman in the front yard of the Hoisington family home in Faribault.

Well, I didn’t have any sculpting images. I knew only that Andy Hoisington, assisted by other family members, shapes the gigantic snowman by hand, literally, and by shovel. Andy pulls out a ladder (he’s a painter) when Frosty grows beyond his reach. Andy is tall, btw.

All of this handcrafting is quite an accomplishment really given the snowman’s height, which is maybe 15 feet (just guessing here). Magical, you might say.

Visual proof of how Faribo Frosty came to be eluded me. Until Saturday. My 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter was in town for a long overdue overnight stay. And on our list of to-do items was posing for photos with Frosty. Izzy is at that magical age of discovery. Frosty would impress her.

But, when we pulled up to view Frosty, we saw a snowman stripped of his bright red scarf, his top hat, his pipe, his arms, even his face. Not particularly exciting, a blob of snow.

 

Andy and Jake work on Faribo Frosty early Saturday afternoon.

 

Then I remembered the request from Ruth in Pittsburgh to take photos of the snowman under construction. While this was repair rather than an original build, it still documents the process. I rolled down the van window and shot a few frames. Then I asked Andy when he and his son Jake would be done with their work. Frosty was suffering from heat-related issues. Yes, a day of 30-plus-degree temps in December sunshine is not good for a snowman, even one as big as Faribo Frosty.

 

Andy, lead snowman builder.

“Come back in two hours,” Andy shouted from high on the ladder.

 

Grandpa and Izzy build their own Frosty in our backyard.

 

 

Well, that wouldn’t work for us. We had a vintage snowmobile show to attend, a stop at the library for books and then back home so Izzy could build a snowman with Grandpa before making roll-out Christmas cookies. Then we had to get to the children’s Christmas service at church by 5:30 p.m. Frosty would have to wait until Sunday. Izzy seemed fine with that given she could now glimpse her very own snowman from the kitchen window. She refused, though, to pose for a photo. In fact, she told me to “Go back inside, Grandma,” when she spotted me poking my head out the back door with my camera.

 

Izzy gets her first close-up look at Faribo Frosty in Grandpa’s arms.

 

 

 

 

Thankfully on Sunday, Izzy mostly cooperated. She even hugged Frosty when I prompted her. It was a sweet and magical moment. This would be a much better world if we all paused to hug a snowman.

 

 

We fit in our photo shoot before a group of Vikings, and Faribo Frosty, fans arrived. While we were there, drivers and passengers in two vehicles also slowed down for a look. This snowman’s popularity has soared given his new social media presence. He’s making a lot of people happy, including me and my granddaughter.

 

 

Thank you, Hoisington family, for your ongoing efforts to bring holiday joy to the Faribault community. I appreciate you. And so does Izzy.

FYI: Faribo Frosty is located at the intersection of First Street Northwest and Third Avenue Northwest in Faribault (18 Third Ave. N.W. precisely).

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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From Faribault: #faribofrosty December 12, 2018

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BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME. The kids. The moms. The dads. The grandmas and grandpas. To see Faribault’s version of Frosty the Snowman.

 

 

Late Saturday afternoon, as day glided into the golden light of early evening, family after family pulled over at the corner of First Street Northwest and Third Avenue Northwest to take photos with a ginormous snowman created by the Hoisington family. It is their annual holiday gift to the community, a gift which brings lots of smiles and joy.

 

 

I witnessed that as kids and families posed for pictures with the towering snowman in the Hoisingtons’ front yard.

 

 

 

 

They came in their Paul Bunyan buffalo plaid and fur caps and hats, some with ear flappers, some not. They came in their boots and sneakers, their jeans, some ripped, some not. They came to see this towering snowman popular enough to now have his own hashtag, #faribofrosty.

 

 

I delighted in these families making memories on a cold December day in southern Minnesota.

 

 

Faribo Frosty embodies the spirit of giving. Faribo Frosty embodies the spirit of joy. Faribo Frosty embodies a sense of togetherness, of family, of community.

 

 

For a moment or ten, a snowman focuses thoughts and vision and the world seems a magical and happy place.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Raising awareness of MS via snow art, plus an idea for Faribault March 11, 2014

IF KURT KLETT CAN CONVINCE city councilors, my community could host an annual snow carving competition in Central Park.

Faribault resident Kurt Klett and his latest snow sculpture, a leprechaun with a pot of gold.

Faribault resident Kurt Klett and his latest snow sculpture, a leprechaun with a pot of gold. Warm temps had partially melted the snow, fading the colors, when I photographed the art late Sunday morning.

That’s the plan, according to this 42-year-old Faribault resident who, for the past five winters, has created snow sculptures in his front yard and this year also entered the St. Paul Winter Carnival snow sculpting contest.

Photographed from Second Street.

Photographed from Second Street.

Given Klett’s enthusiasm and talent and the admiration of locals, his idea certainly could fly. I absolutely support his proposal as a way to bring visitors into Faribault, add a fun, diversionary aspect to an oftentimes long Minnesota winter and promote awareness of Multiple Sclerosis.

Entry fees for the proposed snow sculpting contest would go toward MS, says Klett, diagnosed with the disease of the central nervous system in 1999. The single father of three, ages 6 – 13, suffers from vision and other issues and is currently on disability. He once worked in construction and sales and now works at the Shattuck-St. Mary’s School hockey arena.

His body embraces cold temperatures, Klett says, so he needs to take care not to become overheated while sculpting.

Multiple rubber duckies not sit atop the giant duck graced with a heart and a colored bill.

Klett’s first sculpture of this winter, photographed in late February.

This winter he’s already crafted two snow sculptures in Faribault. The first, a duck, stood completed until two days of 40-degree temps caused the beak to partially fall off.

Klett showed me these photos he took of the two sculptures showing the especially vibrant colors before temps warmed.

Klett showed me these photos he took of the two sculptures with especially vibrant colors before temps warmed.

Undaunted, Klett and a neighbor then “sawed” the remainder of the beak off with a 10-foot chain so he could reshape the duck into a leprechaun holding a pot of gold.

As I’ve observed and as Klett notes, his sculptures are constantly changing, just like the effects of MS. His art, he says, is an ode to MS, a way to raise awareness of the disease.

FIGHT MS is barely visible now on the pot of gold after warm temps began melting the sculpture.

FIGHT MS is barely visible now on the pot of gold after warm temps began melting the sculpture.

FIGHT MS marks the front of the leprechaun’s pot of gold. Klett carved a bull for the St. Paul Winter Carnival snow sculpting contest, dubbing the bull as “Bully the MS Goalie.” Last year he created a stop sign with hockey sticks in his yard, honoring Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding who also has MS.

The leprechaun's pipe is crafted from a crowbar and a raisin container wrapped in hockey tape.

The leprechaun’s pipe is crafted from a crowbar and a raisin container wrapped in hockey tape. This sculpture reaches 12 feet to the top of the hat.

What he crafts from the snow gathered into a huge mound from his and sometimes a neighbor’s yards and even from the roof of his house at 417 Second St. N.W. “depends on what the pile looks like,” this sculptor says.

He’s previously also created a leprechaun on a shamrock, a komodo dragon surrounded by a skyscraper with two hearts, and a T-Rex. Sometimes his kids help choose the art.

This photo montage by Klett shows the process of creating the duck sculpture.

A photo montage by Klett of his 10-foot high duck sculpture.

The process of sculpting this year’s duck and leprechaun took him 14-16 hours each. Depending on the weather, the leprechaun may eventually evolve into a third sculpture. Already warm temps are eroding his leprechaun, fading the colors.

The artist shines a spotlight on his sculptures.

The artist shines a spotlight,left, on his sculptures.

His art draws admiring fans, so much that Klett shines a spotlight on his sculpture at night. As I photographed his leprechaun and chatted with the artist Sunday morning, an older couple stopped. The driver rolled down his car window. “That’s remarkable,” enthused the man. “It’s beautiful.”

I agree. Now imagine Central Park in Faribault graced next winter with such remarkable and beautiful snow art.

FYI: Kurt Klett has not yet approached the Faribault City Council with his request for a snow sculpture contest in Central Park. He is currently raising awareness and gathering support for this project.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A ginormous Frosty at an historic home February 21, 2014

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Snowman, really up close

FORGET CREATING a mini-sized version of Frosty the Snowman.

Snowman, looking up at

This oversized snowman stands in the Hoisington family’s yard at 18 Third Avenue Northwest in Faribault. My friend John directed me to the snow art last Sunday.

Snowman, from front of house

As impressed as I was by the snowman, I was even more impressed with the house. I love everything about this historic home’s exterior from the front brick pillars topped by lion statues to the sturdy entry columns to the graceful curves to the signature windows. I can only imagine the beautiful interior.

This reminds me of the stately home along Lake Harriet in south Minneapolis.

John, when trying to direct me to the location, referenced the house as Dr. Mc I-can’t-recall-his-name’s home, which meant nothing to me, not being a native of Faribault. I find that historical reference typical of my community. My husband and I, after all, live in “the Swanson house,” even though we’ve owned our home for 30 years.

FYI: This was photographed prior to our two-day thaw of 40 degrees and prior to our Thursday/Friday blizzard.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

The Mighty Duck II February 20, 2014

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I am not good at judging size. But this is one big duck.

The sculpture as photographed last week. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

REMEMBER THAT DUCK snow sculpture I showed you last week?

Well, it wasn’t finished.

Look how sculpting and color transformed this duck.

Multiple rubber duckies not sit atop the giant duck graced with a heart and a colored bill.

Multiple rubber duckies now sit atop the giant duck with a heart on its breast.

Stepping back, a view from the street.

Stepping back, a view from the street.

Fabulous, isn’t it?

What's next?

What’s next?

I don’t think the project is finished yet, based on the pile of blocked snow next to the mighty duck at the Kurt Kletter home, 417 Second Street Northwest, Faribault. I’ll keep my eyes on that duck and any new developments.

FYI: Since photographing this duck on Sunday afternoon, we’ve experienced two days of 40-degree temps. I have not checked to see how this heat wave may have impacted the snow sculpture.

Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Goin’ quackers during a Minnesota winter February 12, 2014

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THIS COLD AND SNOWY Minnesota winter has many of us natives going a little bonkers.

I am not good at judging size. But this is one big duck.

I am not good at judging size. But this is one big duck.

But at least one Faribault resident is goin’ quackers instead, sculpting a mighty snow duck in the front yard at 417 Second Street Northwest.

Another angle, looking toward Second Street Northwest.

Another angle, looking toward the street.

I spotted the waterfowl a few days ago, when temps reached a high of around zero and the wind was whipping something fierce.

Big duck. Little duck (decoy).

Little duck (decoy). Mighty duck.

Not a great day to pull out the camera. In less than five minutes of shooting, my gloveless fingers were chilled to the bone. Back inside the car, I positioned my hands within a wisp of a heat vent.

Gazing up at one mighty duck.

Gazing up at the mighty duck.

Now you’re going to ask, “Why a duck? And why would anyone do this?”

I nearly missed the rubber ducky atop the snow at the end of the driveway as I hurried toward the car.

I nearly missed the rubber ducky atop the snow at the end of the driveway as I hurried toward the car.

I didn’t knock on the door and inquire. My only thought after shooting about a dozen frames shortly before sunset was to get inside the Chrysler and warm up.

Therefore you get to offer your theories. Go.

FYI: Not that this has anything to do with the duck sculpture. But D3: The Mighty Ducks, a 1996 sports comedy movie, was filmed at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault and at Carleton College in nearby Northfield. NHL player Emerson Eten, who played prep hockey at Shattuck, now skates for the Anaheim Ducks.

UPDATE: After pulling today’s issue of my local newspaper, The Faribault Daily News, from the fresh snow atop my front steps, I settled in with the paper at lunch. There, on page two, were a story and photo about the mighty duck. Kurt Kletter is the artist behind the sculpture, having crafted snow sculptures during the past four winters. Why have I not noticed his leprechaun, dragons and giant stop sign in past years?

Click here to read the story. Mystery solved.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling