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Canadiens fan Derek Parker knew he couldn’t build another ice castle/bar in his backyard, so he came up with a new idea this winter.
A 16-foot high Olaf snowman wearing a Canadiens sweater.
Two winters ago, Parker spent more than 100 hours building his backyard ice castle, which measured 30 feet long, 12 feet wide and 6.5 feet high.
Parker, who lives in Brossard, built it with 568 blocks of ice measuring 12-by-12-by-15 inches that he made by filling 105 plastic buckets with water before waiting for them to freeze and then starting over. The ice castle included a bar, two benches, a propane-fuelled table patio fire and an 18-inch TV in one corner to watch Canadiens games. There was also a Habs jersey hanging behind the bar and two hockey sticks were frozen into one of the walls forming an X, with a hockey puck stuck in the middle. Parker also installed one of those Budweiser Red Lights synchronized to go off when the Canadiens scored a goal.
Parker said he built the ice castle to “bring people together” and he enjoyed inviting friends, family and neighbours over to watch the Canadiens games in a very cool environment.
But the fun didn’t last very long. After a story about the ice castle was published in the Montreal Gazette, the city of Brossard forced Parker to take it down, telling him the roof over it posed an imminent danger without actually inspecting the structure, which was comprised of a tarp strewn over wood two-by-fours that were screwed into the ice walls. Parker argued the roof was less likely to collapse than a temporary car shelter in a snowstorm, but lost that argument and had to take the ice castle down.
This winter, Parker came up with a different idea and now the 16-foot Olaf stands proudly in his backyard with a Canadiens flag used as a sweater. Parker received the flag as part of a gift package he received from Geoff Molson two winters ago after the Canadiens owner/president read the story about his ice castle.
How did Parker come up with the new idea for his giant Olaf, the snowman from the Disney movie Frozen?
“He’s the most famous snowman out there, right,” he said. “So if you’re going go with a snowman, you might as well make Olaf.”
Frosty might not agree with that statement, but Olaf is, indeed, a much more impressive snowman.
“I just needed to find the plan for how to actually pull it off,” Parker said. “I came up with the idea of building a box, piling the snow in the middle. I built an 8-by-8 (foot) box, 4 feet high, and I would just fill that. The problem is we had no snow, so I had to go searching for snow. The way our street is, the plows push all the snow to the middle median, so I don’t have those big snow banks in front. So I went back and forth from my yard to the median with a scoop. I’d do 10-12 scoops, fill in the box, and every foot I’d go in the box and stomp on it and water it to make it solid and then just keep repeating the process over and over again.”
Parker started the process on Jan. 2. When it was mentioned maybe he should have waited until after Saturday’s snowstorm, Parker laughed and said: “No, that would have been too easy. That’s the whole thing. What’s that Murphy’s Law or whatever it’s called?”
“Once I did the first four feet, I moved the box up another four feet and then filled it up and moved up again,” Parker added about the building process.
Building Olaf was much easier than building the ice castle.
“This only took a couple of weeks piling up the snow and the only reason it took that long is because we had no snow,” Parker said. “It was all the walking back and forth from the median that was really the hassle. Evenings after work and dinner, and on weekends, that’s what I would do.
“I’m tired of watching Netflix, right,” he added. “The gyms are closed, so you can’t do any exercise. So instead of going for a walk, I decided I would do this and it worked out well. With the difficult times that we’re having, I just figured if I could put a smile on someone’s face. That was the ultimate goal.”
Parker used a chainsaw and a shovel to carve out Olaf’s giant snowman face.
The question now is if the city of Brossard will let him keep Olaf.
“I don’t know, man. I guess I’m going to find out after you publish the story, right?” Parker said with a laugh. “I don’t know what they can say. Maybe they’ll say it’s too high? I don’t know. Listen, if they make me take it down, it is what it is, I guess.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2021