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Snow Days Chicago

Head over to Grant Park this week for snow sculptures, dog-sled racing and snowboard demos.
Saturday Feb 07, 2009.     By Stacy Warden
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

Snow Days sculpture
For kids, there's nothing quite like hearing that school is canceled thanks to too much snow. For adults, there's nothing quite as frustrating as still having to trek through the stuff to get to work. But for Chicagoans, both young and old, there's something magical and inspiring about the white stuff. So much so that it warrants a five-day competition and festival in Chicago's Grant Park.

The inaugural Snow Days Chicago will kick off on Thursday, February 12 in the Spirit of Music Garden (located at Balbo and Michigan) at 11 a.m. Teams of professional snow-sculptors, including artists from Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Mexico City and a few local names, will compete against each other to create the most admired sculpture. We're not talking about your typical Jack Frost figure, but rather, detailed pieces crafted from 10-foot blocks of man-made snow. These sculptors have created everything from swimming swans and diving dolphins to elegant eagles and mysterious men.

Animals tend to dominate such competitions, but this year, the artists are branching out. Some of the proposed sketches for 2009 include a bust of Einstein (Sycamore, IL), palm trees (Clawson, MI) and an anatomical Valentine heart (Elmwood Park, IL). And if the Palatine team can pull it off, the show-stopper just might be its whimsical dragon. Once the sculpting frenzy is finished, visitors will have a chance to vote on their favorites. Winners will be announced on Saturday, February 14 at 3 p.m. during a ceremony at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Studies.

Chicago Public Schools will also get in on the artful action with teams of student sculptors from a number of area high schools, including Kenwood Academy, Lane Tech High School, Hyde Park Academy, Bronzeville Scholastic Institute and Northside High School in Palatine. The young talent promises to be just as impressive and innovative as the big boys, with crafty sculptures like a larger-than-life stacked burger, a "lumbergician" depicting a wizard-like lumberjack, and an "Obamanable snowman" with President Obama's face propped on a large mound of snow.

Snow Days Chicago will also offer a fun lineup of family-friendly activities, like the Snowboard Rail Jam, with snowboarding demonstrations from 6-8 p.m. daily, plus a competition on Saturday night, beginning at 6 p.m. There will also be demonstrations of dog-sled racing and weight-pulling with Siberian Huskies provided by Green Valley Dog Drivers. The dogs will run laps around a snowy trail each hour from noon-6 p.m. and once they're finished, visitors will be invited to pet the furry celebrities.

If you can manage to tear the little ones away from the pups, take 'em over to the Activities Igloo, where they can learn all about important cultural events through storytelling and arts and crafts. While little Johnny and Suzie are learning all about President's Day, Abraham Lincoln's birthday, African American History month and Valentine's Day, Mom and Dad can refuel at the nearby food and beverage booths.

Snow Days Chicago runs from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on Thursday, February 12 through Sunday, February 15 and from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Monday, February 16. Get the complete list of scheduled activities and photos of snow sculptures at


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