For the past six years, a trio of New Brighton brothers have been building giant snow sculptures in their front yard. As their latest installment, Austin, Trevor, and Connor Bartz have built a giant snow fish, modeled after a blue gill. Named by community members through their Facebook fan page, Finnegan stands 22 feet tall and weighs over 200,000 pounds.
Not only is the massive snow fish a local favorite photo opp, the Bartz brothers have used this attention to raise funds for charity. Inspired by the snow they use to build their sculptures, the brothers decided to raise funds for clean water initiatives. They began their partnership with nonprofit organization One Day’s Wages last year. This year’s donations are going straight to Malawi, Africa, to help provide clean water for children.
“We’ve raised about $4,000 so far, and our goal is $25,000,” Austin Bartz said.
Building these annual snow sculptures has become a bonding past time for the brothers. Clocking in over 350 hours together, the Bartz family is able to come together during winter breaks to have some fun in the snow for a great cause. They always stick to a sea creature-themed creation, with past sculptures including an octopus, walrus, shark and turtle.
Austin said the idea to create sea creatures began when he caught a puffer fish while in Florida.
“When we came back we had a snow day, and we went to work. We made an eight foot tall puffer fish,” Austin said. “Everybody absolutely loved it. So we just kept going and continued the tradition, and we’ve been doing it ever since.”
To build this solid snow fish, the brothers clearly needed a lot of snow.
“We start with our own yard and pile it up, then our neighbors’ yards,” Connor Bartz said. “This year, we didn’t have a lot, so we ended up going down to the church parking lot.”
They haul most of the snow with shovels and sleds, with occasional help from a trailer.
The Bartz brothers hosted a grand opening on Dec. 31 to unveil Finnegan to the public.
Now, thousands of people come to their house to gaze at this snow creation.
“We try to keep it up for about a month so people can stop by and come and see it,” Connor said.
This giant attraction has given the family’s street plenty of drive by traffic, with their dad ushering cars through when times get busy. Through all the hard work and attention, the brothers agree that its all well worth it.
“I love seeing the kids come out and enjoy it,” Trevor Bartz said. “It’s great to see people drive by and slow down, just seeing the expressions on their faces.”
Visitors can see the snow fish for themselves at 2777 16th Street NW, New Brighton. The brothers are accepting donations in person or online at www.onedayswages.org/snow-sculpture-for-a-cause.
Keep up with the Bartz brothers at Facebook.com/BartzSnowSculptures.
Contact Sarah Burghardt at [email protected]