BOISE, Idaho — If this were a normal year we'd be smack in the middle of the first full week of the McCall Winter Carnival.
We'd have just finished a rollicking weekend that included the Mardi Gras Parade, and the small mountain town would be dotted with dozens of sculptures all carved out of ice and snow, and all having something to do with whatever this year's theme was going to be.
But all of that is not happening because of COVID.
For the first time in 56 years there are no parties, no parades, no Sharlie, no sled dog races, and no sculpture carving contest.
So we thought we'd bring you a taste of what we're all missing by bringing you a sample of some of the extravagant and impressive and artistic snow-packed impressions from year's past.
"It's really hard to pick like a favorite but these are like recent memory ones, I suppose," said McKenzie Kraemer with the McCall Chamber of Commerce. "The one of the knight and the dragon, for anyone that has not built a sculpture, it is really difficult. And that is so intricate and there's these thin little pieces of ice and snow, the epitome of snow sculptures at winter carnival.
"That one with the Northern Lights, they started with a big block of snow, and these artists carved that out so they're basically building in reverse right in their brain as to what's going to be left and I think that makes it all the more impressive for the level of detail and then the lights that they added and it's just those little touches that make them so special."
"The Wild Things Are, I think I remember that one," said Brian Holmes.
"That was a great one," McKenzie replied.
"What stood out to you about that one?" asked Brian.
"For me, I think the one thing that stood out about that was the size of that. I don't… the photo doesn't really do it justice, but I don't come up to one of those monsters, mouth, I mean it was huge," McKenzie said.
"The one that was it a Native American pulling an arrow?" asked Brian.
"That was the ski God ULLR," replied McKenzie.
"I have no idea what that is. What is the ULLR?" asked Brian.
"The ski god ULLR, he's just the God of snow and skiing so you know we dance around to him here when we need some snow," she said. "The dog sled race I picked because it's a different kind of sculpture than you see. The base is snow, but the dogs and the sled and the person are meticulously chainsaw carved out of blocks of ice which is really unique and different."
"The coral reef one stood out to me again for the detail I mean, as you say you don't if you unless you've built what do you know how difficult it is, but all those holes," said Brian.
"Yeah, I mean the scale of that one," McKenzie said. "This is huge and it spanned the whole side of the Ruby's Kitchen building. The detail of the coral and then they also paired a lot of ice carvings in there too, so a lot of the fish are carved out of blocks of ice, where the coral is actually snow and like just the texture on it is really, really impressive."
"The Spider Man one stood out to me, because as you mentioned with the dragon and the castle, the amount of stuff like this one jumps out at you. And so in order to suspend snow and ice…" said Brian.
"And this is one of those that they started with a block of snow, and they carved into it and out of it so again they're, they're building this in reverse so to know what you have to take away to leave these very intricate and thin lines of snow that stick together is really impressive," McKenzie said.
"What's it like this year, and not seeing these sculptures around town?" asked Brian.
"Sometimes when you, when you lose something, you realize how important it is and how fun it is and so I think maybe it's, it's helping people appreciate the time and the energy and the effort that goes into these sculptures, by taking a year off as sad as it is," she said.
McKenzie said if there's a silver lining to missing out on this year it is that people will really appreciate it when it comes back next year. And she says she knows it's going to be a big party to welcome it back.
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