The Yellow Iron Snowman was as alive as it could be, but with little snow, it’s a no-show this winter.
The massive 25-foot snowman that traditionally appears near Teton Village on Christmas Eve was noticeably absent this past holiday. After such a dry December, there just wasn’t enough snow to make Frosty’s gigantic Wyoming cousin this last go-round.
“We've had some years where we've had lack of snow when we actually haul it in,” said Opie Garvin, president of Yellow Iron Excavating and Waste Removal. “But there wasn't even no snow to haul in this year.”
The Yellow Iron Snowman is a real-life fairy tale, they say. He’s always been made of snow, but the Garvin Family knows how he came to life that one special day in 2012.
The massive snowman started as a fun family tradition.
Garvin said he and his wife, Karen, thought building it would be a fun way to spend Christmas Eve with their three daughters.
“Let’s run and have some fun before it goes away,” he recalled. “We always try to find something to keep them busy on Christmas Eve.
“We had some friends in town that year, and some people who came into town had never built a snowman. Got another family in the area and just carved it out for something to do.”
Garvin admits he got carried away once he started using an excavator to built a massive mountain of snow into the snowman. Nevertheless, the tradition has been going strong for more than a decade.
“We'd all build a fire, get a bunch of pizza, carve it out and decorate it,” he said.
Snowmen can be difficult to construct, even when using an obscene amount of snow. While there’s usually enough snow in Jackson to build something, Garvin has always planned ahead to make sure there’s enough for the traditional behemoth, which takes huge amounts off the white stuff to build.
“We'll pile the snow a couple of weeks in advance to let it harden,” he said. “We have to pile it, which takes about a day, let it set, and then half a day to carve it out.”
The scale is enormous.
Garvin estimates it takes the equivalent of around 200 dump truck loads of snow. For perspective, the snowman’s top hat is a 55-gallon barrel.
That’s why the snowman didn’t come together this season. There just wasn’t enough snow to build it by the week of Christmas, and the holiday had come and gone by the time the snow arrived.
“We thought about doing it later in the year,” he said, “but we just want to stick with our tradition.”
Christmas Cheer Next Year
There must’ve been some magic in that old barrel they found, for when they placed it on his head, everyone loved the giant mound.
The Garvin family snowman has become a holiday highlight for many Jackson residents and holiday visitors. Garvin didn’t anticipate such a positive reaction to their holiday project, or outcry of disappointment when it couldn’t happen.
“We just started doing it for fun, but we’ve had a lot of comments and some really nice ones,” he said. “A lady with a boy that's autistic (said) they were having a really bad day. Then they rounded the corner and saw the snowman, and it changed his whole day.”
Garvin was sad his family had to wave the snowman goodbye, but told Frosty fans not to cry. He’ll be back again someday — specifically next Christmas Eve (weather permitting).
“If we have enough snow, it'll definitely be there,” he said.
Andrew Rossi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.