BETHEL – Construction of what is billed to be the world’s tallest snowwoman was temporarily halted Monday due to bad weather and a mechanical problem with the crane that is hoisting tons of snow 60 feet into the air.

“They’re not working today,” confirmed Rosalie Holliday of the area’s Chamber of Commerce. Work is expected to resume Tuesday in the effort to reach 120 feet by the dedication ceremony set for 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 29.

Construction is nearing completion of the eighth layer, according to Robin Zinchuk, executive director of the chamber. As of Saturday, the snowwoman had reached 60 feet tall, and the anchor for its first “button” was laid at hip level.

“It’s an incredible experience,” said Lynn Saxton, who was on the snowwoman Saturday as one of many volunteers participating in the communitywide effort to set another world record with snow. In 1999, the community set the Guinness World Record for tallest snowman with 113-foot, 7-inch Angus, King of the Mountain, which weighed an estimated 8 million pounds.

Saxton, who is a member of the chamber’s Board of Directors and on the snowwoman committee, said volunteers, including school children who are making the scarf for the snowwoman, have been instrumental in building it.

“You’re transported by a man lift on site,” explained Saxton of the process of getting volunteers into a box that is lifted to the top of the snowwoman. Helmets are required and as the snowwoman gets taller, the number of people allowed on top will be limited because of space and safety concerns, she said.

“It’s pretty amazing,” agreed fellow board member Colleen Files.

“There are some amazing views,” she said of the village and Route 2 that she could see from the top Thursday during her last visit. Although she could not see the White Mountains, Files said she expects to be able to see them in another week or so as the structure grows.

Files said the work is not for those who have a fear of heights.

“You get a false sense of security with the (wire) railing. But it’s really not too bad,” she said.

The volunteers pack snow that is lifted by crane and dumped on specific areas of the top of the snowwoman.

Initially, man-made snow was being trucked from Sunday River. Later, the snow was trucked in from piles at the Bethel Regional Airport.

Saxton said the snow is tested for cleanliness to ensure it is chemical free – one reason why snow removed from Bethel roads cannot be used.

Saxton said that hand shovels, volunteers move the snow around the diameter of the form until it is filled to about 2 feet or more. By shoveling and stomping, the snow is packed down hard. Then the forms are lifted and the next layer is begun.

“It’s deliberate step by step as you go,” said Saxton. “It’s quite a feat.”

While the volunteer committee has a core “die hard” group of five or six people who show up almost daily, Files said it has been difficult to get a lot of steady volunteers from town.

“Everyone’s shoveling their own stuff,” she said chuckling.

Any adult interested in volunteering with the project can call the chamber at 824-2282.


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