New Brighton’s Bartz brothers are working on a whale of a snow sculpture.
For nearly a decade, the three brothers, Austin, 25, Trevor, 24, and Connor, 21, with the help of several friends, have built an enormous snow sculpture in the front yard of their family home. They revealed Sunday that this year’s spectacle is going to be a whale. It should be open for public viewing at 2777 16th St. N.W. on New Year’s Day.
“The secret is up….It’s a WHALE!” they posted on their Facebook page “Bartz Snow Sculptures.”
Snow came early this year, so the brothers have had plenty to work with, compared to last year, when they were begging snow from parking lots to finish a 23-foot-tall sea snail. The brothers, who started work shortly after Thanksgiving, keep their fans updated with regular posts and videos on Facebook and even sell Bartz Bros. merchandise.
The sculptures, which started with a puffer fish in 2012, were inspired by a trip to Florida. All of their creations, which include a walrus, shark, turtle, octopus, fish and lobster, have been creatures of the sea.
Videos of their progress show them constructing a temporary wooden wall in which they stacked wet snow. The walls came down Sunday to reveal a whale shape that dwarfs the Bartz’s split-level home.
“This is the tallest one yet,” Austin Bartz said.
Each year the sculptures have gotten more ambitious and have had a brush with national fame. The 12-foot-tall Sharky in 2014 made it to talk show host Ellen DeGeneres’s Facebook page. Octavius the Octopus, towering 18 feet high with suckered tentacles covering the entire front lawn, was featured on the NBC Nightly News and the Weather Channel in 2016.
In 2017, Finnegan the Fish — named because the fish’s fin fell down and had to be built again — made it on the Travel Channel in a documentary about the world’s best snow sculptures.
As they gained notoriety, they began raising funds for clean water in Haiti and Africa through One Day’s Wages, a group that works to alleviate extreme global poverty. Information on how to donate will be available on their website www.bartzsnow.com later this week.
With Ice Castles LLC coming to New Brighton in January which can draw 75,000 visitors, the brothers are planning for large crowds by creating a snow wall to keep safe the pedestrians who choose to wait in line to get a picture with the beastie.