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North Aurora official looks to freeze out holiday snowmen

Ethan Osorio 9 decorates snowman as others dry nearby Saturday North AurorVilage Garage. Organizations residents village painted snowmen for display

Ethan Osorio, 9, decorates a snowman as others dry nearby Saturday at the North Aurora Vilage Garage. Organizations and residents of the village painted snowmen for display in Gazebo Park through the winter. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 21, 2012 2:39PM

NORTH AURORA — It might not be a happy holiday for North Aurora’s community snowmen this year.

Village President Dale Berman this week proposed cancelling the 12th annual holiday project unless volunteers step forward to make the preparations and cover the costs.

“The snowmen used to be more of a volunteer effort, but now it seems like village staff are doing most of the work,” Berman said. “I recommend that we not do it this year, then open it up after that to any volunteers who want to do it.”

In past years, Public Works Department employees have repaired and replaced plywood snowmen as needed, then repainted them white to create blank slates for the next year’s artists.

On a Saturday in early November, the snowmen come out of storage, plastic tarps cover the floor of the Public Works garage and hundreds of Scouts, art classes, families and other residents swarm in to paint their own personalized signs of the season. Businesses can rent snowmen to paint and put up in front of their establishments, but most of the 140 cutouts go to residents, event organizer Harry Patterson has said.

The repainted snowmen wait in the garage until the Public Works Department finishes fall leaf collection, usually the first week of December. Then Public Works employees put up the snowmen along Route 31 downtown, as well as in Gazebo Park near Village Hall.

That’s where much of the project’s cost comes in, Berman said.

“The manpower costs $5,000 to $6,000 at a time of year when (Public Works staff) have other things to take their attention,” he said.

Trustee Ryan Lambert suggested asking the community for help in time to run the program this year.

“I would hate to lose it, but understand we need to get more volunteers. Is there any way to reach out to clubs before November?” he asked.

Trustee Chris Faber, however, advocated dropping the snowmen cutouts and expanding the Slaker’s Tree decorating program, in which children make ornaments at school or in Scout meetings, then place them on the large evergreen tree in Gazebo Park as part of the Sing-Along the first weekend in December.

“It would be more cost-effective to expand the tree decorating program because children can make ornaments in art class or in Scouts or in a library program,” he said.

The board has not yet made a final decision on ending the snowman program.

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