Snowman sculptures unveiled in downtown Naperville
By David Sharos For The Sun November 23, 2012 5:06PM
Chris Cornish, a junior at Naperville Central, hands out goodies to children as they participate in Snowmen Fest in downtown Naperville on Friday, November 23, 2012. Twenty snowmen sculptures were spread around downtown Naperville for revelers to check out and stop into shops along the way. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 26, 2012 6:31AM
The life expectancy of snowmen always rests in the hands of Mother Nature, but a public art project unveiled Friday afternoon in downtown Naperville will allow one of the holiday’s favorite decorations to scorn the elements.
Late this summer, The Downtown Naperville Alliance offered local businesses the opportunity to resurrect a popular art form launched over a decade ago.
“It’s been a few years since we had some kind of decorated art sculpture on display here in the city, and the Downtown Alliance thought it would be nice to bring it back for the holidays,” said Executive Director Katie Wood. “Businesses throughout Naperville purchased one of 20 snowmen statutes which they were allowed to decorate any way they wished, whether they used employees or children or commissioned an artist.”
The results of artists’ inspirations were unveiled at 4 p.m. Friday where shoppers could stop at Main and Jefferson to receive directions on how to find all 20 snowmen sculptures that were placed on white platforms throughout the downtown area. Wood said that in addition, kids could hunt for “plush” versions of snowmen hidden throughout various stores, and that miniature versions of the sculptures would be available for purchase at 10 downtown area businesses, with proceeds going to Little Friends in Naperville.
A crowd of about 50 people braved the elements outside the Two Bostons store on Jefferson where “Chamberlein,” the snowman produced by the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, now stands. Traci Considine of Naperville and her children Jack, 10, and Maddi, 13, were waiting to go on a “snowman hunt.”
“We always come down here as a family the day after Thanksgiving and start off our holiday season,” Traci said. “We love to walk around town and see all the lights and go to dinner downtown. We’ve been doing this since my daughter was about 9 months old. Having the snowmen to look at just adds even more to the experience.”
Maddi Considine said she planned to look at all 20 snowmen located within the boundaries of Webster and Washington streets and Chicago and Benton avenues. She also offered some decorating ideas.
“If I was asked to decorate a snowman, I’d make it look like a dancer, because that’s what I like to do,” she said.
Bill Akins of Naperville and his son Matt described the idea of bringing back public sculptures as “a fun and great idea,” noting that it was important to “keep the ideas fresh.”
“I think it probably was good that the whole sculpture thing went away for a while because people were seeing them everywhere they went,” Bill Akins said. “Things got a little old for a while, but this is a fresh idea. You always see these sculptures in the summer, and now we have something downtown to look at in the winter, given that the trees are bare and there are no leaves.”
Matt Akins said having the snowmen on display for a few months would give viewers a reason to visit them again.
“I’m sure people will walk by and see things on the snowmen they didn’t notice before,” he said.
Ed Pacana of Naperville described Dr. Right, the snowman offered by the Edward Medical Group, as well as the rest of the snowmen exhibit as being “perfect for kids.”
“I‘ve lived here since 1977 and have seen the other sculptures, and I think having them back adds to making the downtown more family-oriented,” he said. “They never seem to run out of ideas about what to decorate next.”
Andy Tesene, co-owner of Two Bostons, said he specifically requested to have one of the sculptures placed outside his store and that he and other merchants “were excited to be involved.”
“We didn’t have time to get an artist lined up to decorate a snowman for us, but we’re thrilled to have one right outside our door,” he said. “My wife and I plan to go around town ourselves and see all of them.”
Wood said beginning Friday afternoon, fans are invited to visit the Downtown Naperville Alliance website at www.downtownnaperville.com/ in order to vote for their favorite snowman. A “People’s Choice” award, she said, will be announced in late December.
Friday was also the official launch of the Hometown Holidays season in the downtown area which included free rides on the Holly Trolley from 4 to 8 p.m. Shoppers were treated to complementary hot chocolate at the Main Street Promenade along with a photo opportunity for kids with Frosty the Snowman.