I’ve been amazed many times by the beauty of Williamstown. In the autumn, the trees are patched with every color imaginable, and in the winter, the sky’s perfect shade of blue provides a striking contrast between the blinding white of the newly fallen snow.
I experienced one of the greatest sights of Williamstown splendor walking back to Frosh Quad on Jan 12. On this day, the Quad was filled with some of the most creative and epic snowmen I’ve ever seen. Some were doing handstands, some were built on picnic tables, and some were close to nine feet tall. They all stood strong amidst flying snowballs and excited freshmen frolicking in the snow.
I found Phuong Vo ’18 sitting in the midst of this winter wonderland, seemingly innocent but with a snowball in hand. “I came when people were cleaning the edges of the snowman,” Vo, a California native, said. “I have never built one before, [but] the snowmen looked incredible!” She was one of many who stopped on her way back to the entry to see the snowmen that were shaping up in Frosh Quad. And she wasn’t innocent after all – I could not run back to the entry without having a snowball fight with her.
These snowmen were the final product of much inspiration and spontaneity. According to Thomas Riley ’18, one of the builders of the Frosh Quad snowmen, “It all originated from that glorious wintry day when the ambient temperature and air moisture waltzed through the night producing the snow. The snow was screaming at us, and we listened.”
Friends joined to pack the snow throughout the day. Tobias Muellers ’18 said that they first built “some smaller snowmen on tables in Frosh Quad.” While the snowmen brought smiles, it felt as though something was missing. According to Julianna Kostas ’18, what began as “a couple of friends deciding to just make a snowman escalated into making the biggest snowman that all of us collectively could muster. We used sleds and buckets and picnic tables to move all the snow and stack up the snowballs to a final height of nine-ish feet.” The entire process took eight people around two hours and required much creativity. As Kostas said, the group used “empty beer cans for [their] buttons.”
Meanwhile, Justin Sardo ’18 was crafting his masterpiece on a nearby picnic table. “I built my snowman, which eventually became more of a snow sculpture as I focused on the aesthetics of it.” The final product was a snowman of five segments, stretching to the second story of Sage Hall.
The snowmen of Frosh Quad were a part of a wider family of snowmen appearing on campus that day. The residents of Currier Quad built a snowman family of two parents and two children, and a snowman of equally epic proportions was built at Mission that night. Juli Raventos ’18 had been returning from the gym when she saw her Junior Advisor beginning to build a snowman. When asked to help, she did not think twice. “We worked together and asked some people that were passing by to help us carry the enormous snowballs,” Raventos said. What resulted was a snowman of four segments nearly twice the size of the builders themselves.
For their builders, the snowmen served as more than just aesthetic displays. “Building a snowman, having a snowball fight and frolicking through the glorious purity of freshly fallen frozen water bring out emotions I cannot put into words,” Pierceson Brown ’18 said. The builders agreed that the snowmen helped them become kids all over again, adding that they share an unbreakable bond because of the experience. “It’s really easy to forget how childlike wonder and frivolity were such an integral part of our youth,” Kostas said. “But when we made the snowman, it was just a storm of constant outrageous ideas and epiphanies.”
The experience was incredibly memorable for those freshmen from warm places, who don’t always get the opportunity to play in the snow. In fact, the initial three builders of the Mission snowman were from Costa Rica, Hawaii and Texas. “I didn’t want to sit around taking the snow for granted,” added Sardo. “I’m from California, so I don’t get this very often.” Some were realizing a snowman-building dream they have held since arriving on campus. “Since my acceptance letter, my most burning ambition for Williams was to have a dope snowball fight and build a dope snowman,” Brown said.
The snowmen may have fallen the following day, but they were a testament to the amazing art and experiences that happen when we take advantage of this wintry campus, especially during Winter Study.