Navy Pier’s 5th Annual Snow Days

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Navy Pier’s 5th Annual Snow Days celebrated with skilled artisans from across the globe and around the Midwest descended on Navy Pier’s Polk Bros. park recently to demonstrate their trade and celebrate the mid-winter season

Equipped with nothing more than a shovel, a bucket, a ladder, and a few ice scraping tools, eight teams of professionals competed against each other to create magnificent masterpieces from 10-foot blocks of ice; working around the clock from Wednesday morning to Friday night in anticipation of Saturday’s morning’s grand unveiling. Hundreds of spectators attended the show on Saturday, took pictures, and even voted for the People’s Choice Award, given to the most popular snow statue from the public’s point of view.

Creating exquisite sculptures out of the natural elements of snow and ice is no easy task, but these artists persevered and succeeded in the wake of Chicago’s 5th largest snowfall on record. Three-people teams from as far away as Great Britain, Argentina, and Ukraine (as well as the Midwest) brightened the day for many Chicagoans with this fascinating exhibit. Not to be overshadowed were the impressive efforts of five local high schools, competing for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place honors in front of friends, family, and faculty members.

At dusk, swirling multi-colored lights were activated, highlighting the artistic details and contours of each statue in the park, adding a new dimension to the entire show. Starting at 6:00 P.M. all of the teams, fans, judges, and onlookers gathered at the Family Pavilion stage inside of Navy Pier for the much-anticipated awards ceremony.

The talented trio of Neal Vogt, Mark Hurst, and Mike Nehs from Pewaukee, Wisconsin captured the prestigious 1st place prize of $1,500 with their statue entitled “Pushing up Daisies.” “Impending Fate,” a sculpture also created by a team from Wisconsin garnered 2nd place honors and a $1,000 prize, while a respectable 3rd place and $500 was awarded to the creators of “The Slaying of Orochi by Susanoo” statue. The crowd erupted with applause for Oak Park-River Forest High School when the judge announced them as the 1st place winners (among high schools) with “Cloud Bear.” The innovative “Windy Star” by students at Lincoln Park High School resulted in a 2nd place finish while 3rd place honors were given to Nicholas Senn High School for their clever project “The Bearded Curtain.”

Overall, it was an entertaining outdoor exhibit for spectators of all ages in the delightful atmosphere of Navy Pier, and after the sun went down it seemed as if another show just started. A rainbow of colors flashed on these creative sculptures, providing all viewers with a different, multi-dimensional viewpoint compared to the afternoon daylight hours. Once again, no one walked away disappointed from this spectacular Navy Pier event and we all look forward to next year’s show! Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.


About Jim Wattron

Jim graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, with a degree in Business Administration. Jim has worked with the team from the beginning and he consistently strives for innovation with refreshing topics that inspire readers with context of new adventures and happenings, locally and internationally. Read more from this author.