Snowzilla rises again in Anchorage, despite city opposition

By Elizabeth Bluemink

McClatchy Newspapers

Published: Thursday, Dec. 25 2008 12:03 a.m. MST

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Snowzilla, the giant snowman, rose from the dead Tuesday morning after some holiday pranksters thumbed their noses at city orders and rebuilt him overnight.

When news of the controversial and world-famous Anchorage snowman's demise exploded on the Internet this week, hundreds of Alaska and Lower 48 readers had two words for the city of Anchorage and anyone else who criticized the crowd-pleasing giant: "Bah humbug."

And before dawn Tuesday, in downtown Anchorage, someone erected a small, misshapen snowman at the entrance to Anchorage City Hall: A crude mini Snowzilla brandishing a protest sign that read "Snowmen of the world unite!"

Others created a snowzilla.org Web site and began soliciting a legal defense fund for Snowzilla's creators.

The Powers family first built Snowzilla in their front yard in 2005. Their snowman became an instant celebrity, drawing local gawkers and international TV crews to their Columbine Street home.

But complaints trickled in from neighbors who didn't appreciate the increased traffic and noise at all hours.

Several weeks ago, city code enforcers — acting when this year's giant snowman was half-complete — declared Snowzilla a nuisance and a safety hazard. They banned homeowner Billy Powers from building an "extraordinarily large snowman." The city posted its stop-work order at the base of the snowman and on Powers' front door.

Stung by criticism of its decision to outlaw Snowzilla, the city went on the offensive against Powers on Tuesday afternoon in a press release.

A city spokeswoman said Powers has violated city land-use codes for 13 years and ignored city efforts to "accommodate his desire to build a giant snowman without affecting the quiet, residential quality of the neighborhood."

When asked Tuesday morning about his other disputes with the city — involving the old cars, tires and other junk he stores in his front yard — Powers abruptly ended the interview and went inside his house.

"We've already had enough bah humbug," he said.

According to officials, the city has a lien against his property for $118,000, the amount of money Powers owes in a court judgment for ignoring repeated orders to clean up the yard.

Did the bad blood over the property dispute influence the city's decision to kill Snowzilla?

"It was certainly in the back of our mind, but I think we would have done the same thing if it had been a different place," said Richard Fern, a city code enforcement officer.

All but one of the families on his block like Snowzilla, Powers said.

As proof, he produced a petition neighbors signed last week. One of them, Barbara Hosier, included a note saying the snowman is "the best thing that ever happened in Anchorage."

At least for now, Snowzilla is back in a big way.

It's about 25 feet tall, taller than last year, sporting a new corncob pipe and carrot nose. When word of its resurrection spread around town Tuesday morning, Snowzilla's many local fans drove through the neighborhood to pay homage and snap photos.

It's clear the snowman was built quickly: It looks a little lumpier and broader in the hips than it did in previous incarnations.

Who built it? Magic, said Powers. Christmas magic. And that's what he'll tell city enforcers if they pay a visit, he said.

No one from the city plans a visit right now. No need to ramp up the antagonism, Fern said.

The city will not take any action related to Snowzilla until after the holidays, he said.

The city got concerned in the first place because of angry complaints from a neighbor last year, who mentioned drunks coming to see the snowman at night and other problems, Fern said.

The city didn't do anything about Snowzilla last year. This year, the code enforcers decided to post the stop-work order after it became clear that Snowzilla 2008 would be much bigger than last year, Fern said.

Snowzilla has never been built so quickly, Powers said.

He refused to discuss who built the snowman or how many people helped it appear "magically" overnight. He wouldn't say if his own family was involved.

Several people who drove by the Powers house Tuesday morning gave the monster snowman a big smile and thumbs up.

"I think it's sad that we live in a community that would stop someone from building a snowman," said Jason Palmer, who stopped for a moment to check out Snowzilla while making a flower delivery in the neighborhood.

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS