By Carol McCracken
Friday afternoon, February 6th marks the kick-off of Portland’s long-awaited WinteRush 2009. Speaking from inside a white tent at Lincoln Park yesterday afternoon, Ed Jarrett, gave a tour of the snow sculptures that are awesome works in progress. They will be completed in time for the 5:00 p.m. start two days from now. The Festival ends Thursday, 2/14.
Jarrett who is in charge of the snow sculptures picked the theme (international waters), chose the carvers and did all of the logistical work involved. That included trucking in l50 tons of snow from the Ocean Gateway area on Commercial Street. Specifically, from the Maine State Pier itself. One of the featured snow sculptures inside the igloo- like- tent is the largest sculpture to be carved in the state of Maine – a humpback whale with her baby calf at her side – and the second largest anywhere. Please visit www.mainesnowandice.org for more details.
The three carvers working on the whale are from Wisconsin. They arrived in Portland Sunday evening and began work on the sculpture Monday morning. One of them, Michael J. Sponholtz said he “loves” the cold weather and hates the heat and warmth. He spends about 6 weeks each winter traveling all over the world sculpting for such events as Portland’s WinteRush 2009. In 1998, the three carvers won a bronze medal in the Japanese Winter Olympics for their snow sculpture – a likeness of Mt. Rushmore.; the largest snow sculpture ever created. The three friends sometimes work together on projects and sometimes individually. But they are all artists back in Wisconsin with their own businesses.
On Saturday, February 7, there will be a Maine Polar Dip at the East End Beach on the Hill at noon. It will benefit Camp Sunshine. Plungers need only place their feet in the water (full imersion not required) and generate a minimum of $100 for the Dip to participate in it. For more details, please visit freezinforareason.com
Meanwhile, back at the white tent that looks like an igloo, Ed Jarrett, has already begun to think about next year’s WinteRush 2010. “It’s theme will be ’tracks’ – but I won’t offer any more details than that,” said Jarrett, grinning, to the puzzled MHN editor who is still scratching her head!