The snowman wasn’t designed to last longer, but it lasted longer than other snowmen.
The 18-foot giant in the Tall Mudge Circle was a spectacular sight for Christmas in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
A big companion wearing a top hat and clasping a candy cane greeted everyone with a friendly smile outside the old First Congregational Church in the heart of the community.
Unlike Frosty, this guy didn’t melt. Unlike Archie, this guy couldn’t speak. Unlike Olaf, this man couldn’t walk.
But during the three holiday seasons, he was a familiar figure in town.
Unless the wind is too strong. Then be careful.
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Tall Madge Jacey, who was in charge of decorating the circle, came up with something special for Christmas 1969.
“I was very excited to do the project,” recalled Eric Nicodems, 73, a former decoration chairman from Akron in Johnson City, Tennessee. “I really expected a great time with everyone.”
It was Nicodemus’s idea to make a huge snowman. After he proposed the project at the Jacey’s conference, members voted for it and overwhelmingly approved the funding.
“This was something my peers were interested in, and I was very happy,” said Nicodemus. “I designed it myself.”
Make a snowman
At that time, Nicodemus was working at General Tire at Akron’s retread facility. He said he was always mechanically leaning. He and three or four other Jaceies made a snowman with 2 x 4 frames, masonite, and enamel papier mache.
“It was designed with three separate parts, much like a snowman was designed from snow,” he recalled.
The three frames were basically rectangles of different heights. The first, probably 6 or 7 feet high, formed the main ball. The one in the center was a little small and the head was still small. They are designed to be placed one above the other.
Jacey took strips of masonite and connected them up and down to create a ball effect. They covered the figure with enamel-painted papier mache, made arms, hats, candy canes, and finished with eyes, nose, mouth, and four buttons.
The man assembled parts on the driveway of President Tony Paduchik’s house and trucked them downtown.
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They hired a crane service to install a snowman in the west arc of the Tall Mudge Circle and stake it near a sign that says “Seasonal Greetings.” Floodlights illuminated the character at night.
Nicodemus said the public reaction was very positive.
“We were very proud of the project we did,” he said.
It was an era of huge snowmen. Just 3.2 km from Chapel Hill Mall, the 20-foot character Archie entertained children during Christmas time. The snowman, which debuted in 1968, was made of plywood, chicken wire, cotton stuffing, and fiberglass.
The operator hid in a small house with colored windows and spoke to mall visitors through speakers, creating the illusion of a snowman talking.
Archie was fortunate to be protected from the harsh elements of winter. His unnamed cousin in Tall Mudge wasn’t so lucky.
When the wind blows
After Thanksgiving in 1970, Jacey took the snowman out of storage and reassembled it in warm, unseasonable weather. A few days later, a cold front passed through Ohio.
Strong winds up to 40 mph, storms knocked down trees, tore roofs of buildings, destroyed power lines, and knocked down the unfortunate snowman of Tall Mudge.
A storm smashed the heads of big companions like pinatas.
“Tallmadge Snowman died fiercely from December 1969 to December 3, 1970, was blown away, and still held Candy Cane, and before the first snow!” Beacon Journal reported. ..
However, rumors of the character’s death were highly exaggerated. Jacey gathered around their creations, repairing damage, erecting him, and supporting him with guidewires and stakes.
He smiled as he overtook the driver for the rest of the holiday season.
Jacey brought him back in December 1971. The snowman survived Christmas, but collapsed in a storm after a vacation 50 years ago. It seems that it was the last hurray.
“I don’t remember the end,” Nicodemus said with a laugh.
For decades, he has worked on a variety of theater projects, including the construction of theater sets.
But he never made an 18-foot snowman again.
“I tried this the only time in my life, yes, Sir,” said Nicodemus.
Mark J. Prices can be reached at [email protected]
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