Tradition spared the knife |

Tradition spared the knife

Company steps up to help snow sculpting contest go on

Rich Pugsley, right, directs a heavy equipment operator dumping snow into a frame to form a snow block for a snow sculpture in downtown Steamboat Springs on Wednesday afternoon.
Brian Ray

— A longtime Winter Carnival tradition was nearly broken this year because of too much snow in Steamboat Springs, but a local company has stepped up to ensure snow sculptures will again grace Lincoln Avenue.

On Monday, the city of Steamboat contacted the Mainstreet Steamboat Springs organization with news that the city would be unable to build the large blocks of snow that high school students use to create sculptures along Lincoln Avenue.

While abundant snow this winter has been a blessing to many, it has been a curse for others, including the city, which paid nearly 1,000 hours of overtime to snowplow drivers in the two-week pay period ending Jan. 19.

“This is the first year that we have been unable to help the high school students with their snow sculptures,” said Doug Marsh, the fleet/street superintendent for the city of Steamboat who oversees snow removal crews. “We’ve been so busy and so far behind. It feels like we take one step forward and two steps back.”

Marsh said building as many as two dozen blocks of snow can take six to eight hours, which is time the city cannot spare.

Mainstreet manager Tracy Barnett feared the snow sculpture tradition might be broken.

“To lose a piece of our (Winter Carnival) tradition : would be a sad occurrence,” said Barnett, adding the tradition goes back to at least the 1940s.

Barnett contacted Native Excavating owner Ed MacArthur to see if he could help.

“He didn’t even hesitate,” Barnett said. “He said ‘I can help with that.'”

On Wednesday afternoon, five Native Excavating employees and three loaders arrived downtown to transport snow from the rodeo grounds to Lincoln Avenue, where the snow was packed into forums to create 18 blocks.

MacArthur was unable to help with the construction because he went on vacation.

“He does a lot that people don’t know about,” Native Excavating employee Rod Scott said. “It’s awful hard for him to say ‘no’ when it comes to kids.”

The annual tradition is popular with Steamboat youths.

“There have been kids that have been working to be on the sculpture team for years,” Barnett said.

Downtown businesses pay $50 to have a sculpture created in front of their business, with the proceeds going back to the school. Students selected to participate in the sculpting contest are excused from school today to work on their sculptures, which are inspired by Winter Carnival’s annual theme. This year’s theme is “A Celebration of Community.”

Winter Carnival festivities ramp up today with skiing and snowboarding events beginning at 4:30 p.m. at Howelsen Hill. A $7 button must be purchased to attend Winter Carnival events.

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