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Snowmy Kromer, with his four-foot-long pipe and traffic cone nose, is back in Minocqua

Minocqua Snowmy Kromer
Let's Minocqua Visitors Bureau and Chamber of Commerce
Snowmy Kromer, a 40-foot-tall snowman donning a giant Stormy Kromer hat, is back in Minocqua.

Minocqua is bringing a legendary snowman back to life – and it’s not Frosty. It’s Snowmy Kromer, a 40-foot-tall snowman that has graced Northwoods winters with its presence for decades.

The Minocqua Visitors Bureau is building a snowman in its front yard, but not like the kids next door.

“We have two dump trucks running back and forth between town and here,” Krystal Westfahl, the bureau’s director, says. “And a backhoe that is filling in 20 feet of snow fencing.”

Westfahl is overseeing the construction of Snowmy Kromer, a 40-foot-tall Minocqua snow icon.

Unlike a run-of-the-mill Frosty, Snowmy is not made by rolling a snowball across a snow-covered meadow.

Instead, dump truck after dump truck spill loads of fresh white snow onto the visitor bureau’s frozen lawn, where it’s scooped up by a massive yellow backhoe.

Building snowmy kromer
Erin Gottsacker
A dump truck unloads a pile of snow to assemble the 40-foot snowman.

“He’s put together like a wedding cake,” Westfahl explains.

The first layer of that cake, which forms Snowmy’s base, is 20 feet across and more than 8 feet tall.

It’s held together by a circle of wooden snow fencing.

“The back hoe takes the snow, puts it inside the circle and then packs it down,” Westfahl says. “Then a couple of guys – I liken it to the stomping of the grapes – they go around the edge and push it down with their feet to pack it in really solidly.”

The process of building just the first layer takes a full day. Once it’s finished, the fire department sprays a tank of water over the base to cement it into place.

Then, the cycle repeats with Snowmy’s 16-foot-wide midriff and 8-foot-wide head.

“The fire department comes back again, sprays him down with another tanker truck of water and then he sets,” Westfahl says. “Then, we have another day where we have to dress him.”

Snowmy’s blue buttons measure a foot across. His carrot nose is actually a bright orange traffic cone. And his firetruck red Stormy Kromer hat (which Snowmy was named after) is a size 96. It’s one of the biggest Stormy Kromer hats in the world.

“(His hat) is a feat in and of itself,” Westfahl says. “We have to pack it full to make sure it pops up on top of his head, so we put in all kinds of stuffing to get that hat to sit up nice and tall.”

The three-day construction process is a battle, but according to Westfahl, it’s worth the fight.

You can view a livestream of the progress:

“He’s a labor of love for many,” she says, “and we have thousands and thousands of people that stop by to see him.”

Snowmy Kromer will attract visitors all winter long, just like he’s done for decades.

Westfahl says the earliest photos of Minocqua’s giant snowman date back to the 1940s.

Snowmy History.jpg
Erin Gottsacker
Krystal Westfahl, the Minocqua Chamber of Commerce director, holds up an early photo of Minocqua's giant snowman.

“There is a lot of history surrounding this snowman,” she says. “He’s come in many different shapes and sizes, and he’s been all over town.”

One early black and white photo shows a snowman towering over the information center beside it, several times taller than the four men smiling at its feet. That snowman wore a black top hat in place of its current red Stormy Kromer model, and a snug plaid scarf wrapped around its neck.

Over time, that look has evolved.

“This was how he was back a number of years ago,” Westfahl says, holding up a picture on her phone from the early 2000s. “They actually put a pole in his middle. The old Dairy Queen had him like that.”

Sometimes Snowmy Kromer disappears for years at time. In fact, the last time he made an appearance was in 2019.

“We’ve had some pretty big snowfalls in the past couple years,” Westfahl says, “but the timing hasn’t been right and the consistency of the snow hasn’t been right.”

But this year the snow is just right, so the magic of Minocqua’s giant snowman lives on.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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