Extension Education: Snowmen, Snowmen Everywhere
Imagine driving through northwestern Wyoming and coming across a decorated wooden snowman wearing sunglasses and a scarf. You pass through Emblem, population 10, and spot a few children checking out the names painted on a family of snowmen.
Further down the road, you roll through the tiny town of Burlington, passing the North Pole Café in Orlando Aagard Park, where laughing people are sipping cocoa and eating Christmas cookies around a bonfire.
A horse-drawn carriage full of happy children and their parents passes by the Post Office, where another charming snowman sits out front with “Sue” written down its side.
“I just saw the Grinch in Whoville beside that little store, and Max, the dog, is handing out treats,” says your traveling companion.
You look to confirm Cindy Loo Who and Martha Loo are out there too, with treats in hand.
Looking down the streets and into the park, you spot more snowmen. They are everywhere, and as far as you can tell, no two are alike. Hundreds of heartwarming snowmen – 300 to be exact – dot the yards throughout these ranching and farming communities.
There are families of snowmen dressed as buck deer and superheroes; snowmen playing violins, riding in Jeeps and tractors and holding their cats and dogs; others are surrounded by cows, horses, presents, mountains and tropical trees and one snowman holds a giant snowflake over its head, while others sport University of Wyoming fan gear.
You can’t help yourself from stepping out of the car for a closer look at the hand-painted faces, each inspiring joy and laughter.
“Are you going to the cook-off at the Burlington Fire Hall tonight at 5 p.m.?” asks a young child.
“There will be 400 ornaments for people to make for their Christmas trees. Oh, and you can vote for the best picture of a Christmas tree, wreath, decorated house and snowman. I hope my tree wins a prize,” the excited child smiles with a toothless grin.
“They will be lighting the Veteransʼ Honor Tree and the City Hall trees at 6 p.m. tonight, right before the lighted parade when Santa arrives with presents for all of the kids, and Pauline Parker is giving away a wooden sled,” an eager older child informs you.
You smile with the crowd and return to your car to continue on down the road to Otto. Rural homes pop up along the sleepy two-lane highway. They, too, have snowmen in their yards.
Scavenger hunters read the painted names on each snowy yard ornament to find answers to the 20 clues on their worksheets. There will be a prize for that, too.
Community snowmen project
The Community Christmas Celebration’s winter wonderland didn’t happen overnight.
Back in the spring, Parker, a Burlington resident, dreamed of creating a festive environment to unite the three tiny communities of Emblem, Burlington and Otto during the holiday season.
She began a massive project in the spring with $600 from the Town of Burlington and a large donation of wood from Tony Nicholson.
The Recreation Board, Sara Lanius and Jenny Booth jumped in to help.
Donations arrived on Parker’s doorstep as neighbors learned of her goal to spread joy and happiness by placing a snowman in every yard.
Children from Robin Allen’s 4-H group painted snowmen, and local young men and women wrapped hundreds of gifts donated by Lanius for Santa’s bag.
Residents had painting parties and brushed the first layer of white paint on scores of snowmen. Some decorated their own, while others dug through their closets and found ribbons, scarves, sunglasses, hats and a wide variety of embellishments, allowing Parker to craft delightful snowmen one by one.
“In the summer, no one wanted to think about snow,” laughs Parker.
However, the community breathed life into her dream anyway, offering many hands to lighten the load. Soon, those hands will be cooking, baking and judging the cook-off on Dec. 2.
“There are too many volunteers to name, but they know who they are and how grateful we all are for their support,” Parker adds.
Community Christmas Celebration
The Community Christmas Celebration promises to warm hearts, renew bonds between neighbors and create lasting memories. Be sure to stop on your way through and join the fun.
Winter wonderland activities in Burlington will take place on Dec. 2, starting at 2 p.m. with opening events including carriage rides beginning at the fire hall, and Whoville will open up by the Dry Creek Country Store.
At 3 p.m., there will be family-friendly crafts at the North Pole Workshop in the Burlington Town Hall and North Pole Cafe in the Orlando Aagard Park.
The Community Cook-Off will kick off at 5 p.m. Categories include chili, potatoes, noodles, soups and “this or that,” cooked in a crock pot, stock pot or Instant Pot.
A tree lighting ceremony will take place at 6 p.m., with caroling and the lighting of the Burlington Town Hall and Veterans’ Honor trees, and at 6:30 p.m. there will be a light parade with special visitor Santa Claus at the Burlington Town Hall.
Those eager to compete in the cook-off or volunteer for the Community Christmas Celebration can contact Parker at 307-272-1103.
Melissa Cook is a University of Wyoming Extension educator in Big Horn County. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-568-4160.