Family Turns Snow Into Art

ST. MARYS — Snow sculptures often involve building modest snow forts and snowmen — all of which take maybe a few hours’ hard work.

For the Hagan family of New Bremen, the recent blizzard was an opportunity to put their noses to the grindstone, pack snowball upon snowball, and end up with something spectacular at their home located at 134 St. Clair Place.

Peter Hagan and his family have done snow sculptures in the past, but not since moving to New Bremen from Carson City, Nev., eight years ago.

The family shares in the widespread Christmas tradition of watching certain holiday movies every year, and this year they added home movies to the list of what to watch.

Some of those videos, Hagan said, were of some of the intricate snow sculptures he orchestrated in the past.

This sparked enthusiasm among his four children, Shelby, 20, Tyler, 17, Jared, 16 and Janelle, 9, to continue the tradition of sculptures with something special.

“The idea was to do Frosty the Snowman with all the kids marching down the street, and then my 16-year-old boy said, ‘We should do a scene from the Polar Express,’” Hagan said.

“And I said, ‘That’s kind of a big project to pull off — I don’t know about that.’ But all the other kids were excited about that. Since they had the enthusiasm to do it, we started looking at the movie — going through it, frame by frame, looking for a scene that we thought would work well. And we wanted sort of an action scene, so we went to the part in the movie where the train is going over the frozen lake, and the little kids are on the front with the conductor and (the little girl) falls off the train and he grabs her. And it was like, ‘OK, that’s the scene we want to do ... And out into the freezing cold we went.”

The planning phase took six hours. Once everyone was bundled up, the family rolled out the hand tools, which included saws, spoons and knives.

“We mixed the snow like cement with water to make slush,” Hagan said.

“Shelby was the main snowball roller. To get the bulk of it, we rolled about 16-inch diameter snowballs, and we did that on plastic so we didn’t pick up any dirt or grass.”

After five days of work and hundreds of hours  — all at night because the snow was cold enough and would not be melted by the sun — the Hagan family now has a giant replica of the head of the Polar Express sitting on their front, still snow-covered lawn.

“The kids did 80 percent of the construction,” Hagan said.

It was their idea to add the brick wall with the words, “Polar Express” sitting on top of it.

Hagan was in charge of the more artistic, detailed aspects of the sculpture — making the conductor and the children positioned on the front of the train. Spotlights illuminate the sculpture at night and the train has a real, working headlight.

“The snow is hollow right there, and then we put a prismatic lens in there and we put a light behind it, far enough (away) to where it won’t melt the snow and it just shines through,” Hagan said.