TRAVERSE CITY — Brad Culver and Dirk Alpers’ Christmas cheer stands about 25 feet tall and smiles at drivers as they meander along West Silver Lake Road on the way out of town.
“He’s probably shrunk three or four feet,” Culver said as he stood before his giant snowman on Friday morning. “We just did it for fun. It’s something to make people cheer up during this winter.”
Culver, owns Culver Meadows just to the west of the open field where the snowman stands, and worked for a few hours Dec. 14 to heap enough snow to carve the giant blob that eventually begat Frosty the Snowman.
Meanwhile, Alpers lent some heavy equipment from his company, Alpers Excavating, to the effort. And he ran a large excavator that carved the monument to winter. It’s a project that would be impossible without the help of heavy equipment.
“We probably had about 200 yards of snow heaped up,” Culver said. “I pushed this whole field.”
Culver had help from his son Connor, 10, who co-piloted the loader that piled the snow. They watched while dozens of vehicles passed by, smiling drivers who honked their approval.
“We had a great time,” he said.
Alpers made a similar snowman for several years in a field just north of this year’s version, but had been on a 3-year hiatus when weather didn’t cooperate. The massive bulbous character dons 10-foot-long arms made of PVC pipe and a top hat constructed from a huge, black drainage culvert.
But the men gave their time, equipment and fuel for more than just fun.
There have been plenty of things to bring people down during the past several holiday seasons, Culver said.
“There’s just so many uncertainties out there,” he said. “People lose track of the real reason for the season.”
He watched for the past week while passersby gawked and sometimes stopped to take pictures of the snowman.
He’s kept a large driveway to its base plowed for families who want to take a Christmas portrait on its belly. Culver smiles at the thought that the giant, decorated pile of snow could brighten others’ days as they rush past.
“It just made sense,” he said.