Grasshopper Soup: Who put the ‘snow’ in SnowFest!?
March 9, 2010
SnowFest! began like a gem (especially this 50th anniversary year of the 1960 VIII Winter Olympics) with ample snow sparkling with laser light, torch light and Bud Light, and creatures of the snow joined in memorable celebration.
But something was missing for the Saturday parade in Tahoe City. Snow! Everybody knows you can’t have a SnowFest! parade without snow. It just wouldn’t be right. But it was too late. SnowFest!, at least in town, was doomed to look more like Dust Fest.
About 5 a.m., the sound of snow removal equipment woke me up. Fantastic! Heaven decided to cooperate at the last minute and snow on our parade. I was wrong. Not one flake had fallen. I heard snow removal equipment, but the sound was different from the gritty, metallic scraping symphony several types of equipment create in a big storm. This was only one machine. What was this nut doing out there all alone?
The sound of his machine grew louder, then faded away into the night. Silence fell. Now was my chance. Maybe I could fall back asleep before the Snow Ghost struck again.
Off in the distance, the faint, tortuous sound of his engine began to fade back in again. It crept closer, louder, spark plugs firing, pistons pounding, crank shaft cranking. Then it faded away again. This went on for over an hour. What was so important to this guy?
If you can’t beat and#8216;em, join and#8216;em. Short several hours of sleep, I dragged myself to work via the Dam Cafe. As usual, it was full of familiar faces and lively commotion. With a big smile, I politely asked everyone to calm down. They did, for about a split second. I asked Matty Daniels, and#8220;Who was that driving back and forth in town so early this morning?”
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With no hesitation came his reply, and#8220;Kevin.and#8221;
It wasn’t snow removal I heard. It was snow distribution! Kevin Fenley, with true community spirit, exercising his God-given inalienable right, in the tradition of true American liberty, put the snow in SnowFest! He skillfully separated pure white snow from old black piles of the festive stuff, and put several perfectly clean, sparkling white mountains of snow along the parade route. One actually looked like Mt. Tallac. It was a brilliant, artistic contribution.
After the parade, local snow removal experts, whose safety record is superb, zeroed in on Kevin’s art and gave a carefully planned, but somewhat spontaneous snow removal demo. Some witnesses even called it a ballet. Eileen, a Granlibakken guest, said she was a little nervous, but found it very educational when she realized how good the operators actually were. Overall, the crowd found the demonstration exciting, and were quite impressed.
Some community officials voiced legitimate safety and liability concerns, called it reckless, and out of control and threatened to ban future snow removal exhibitions.
Let’s look for the diamond in the rough. Rules and regulations do not have to stand in the way of the unique gifts so generously offered by everyone involved.
The Sierra Nevada mountains are the birthplace of snow removal technology. It should be celebrated, not condemned. Americans, especially kids, love big machines on wheels.
Imagine snow removal equipment with reptilian appendages that look like dinosaurs, painted with big, scary teeth and eyes so there is no mistaking they are part of the parade. Or make them look like bears, mountain lions, wolverines, etc. Throw in some snow and you have a Grand Finale!
A Snow Monster Bash (or ballet), with humorous skits, narration and choreographed to music by the NTHS Jazz Band could be very exciting, draw crowds from all over and help Tahoe City’s economy. It’s an idea. Together we could make it a gem.
Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived at Lake Tahoe for 27 years.