For nearly a decade, three brothers have built sea-themed snow sculptures in front of their family home in New Brighton, Minnesota. The latest—a whale—appeared in 2020. It’s a snow sculpture for a cause.

By The editors of MidwestLiving.com
January 17, 2020
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The latest of Austin, Trevor and Connor Bartz's spectacular snow sculptures: Walvis the Whale—22 feet tall and 63 feet long.

The brothers, who are in their 20s, have been building sea-themed snow sculptures since 2012. For the last several years, they’ve used the attention grabbed by these massive sculptures to raise money for global clean water and sanitation projects through One Day's Wages, a group that works to combat poverty.

Visiting the sculptures (in New Brighton, north of Minneapolis) is free, but anyone is encouraged to donate; information is on the website www.bartzsnow.com. They raised more than $46,000 in 2020 for clean water projects in Uganda and Niger.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with One Day’s Wages to raise money to provide access to clean water and sanitation to more communities around the world,” the brothers say. “Your generosity each year inspires us to keep building.”

The brothers built their first sculpture in 2012 after returning from a trip to Florida. When a snowstorm hit the Twin Cities, they decided to create a sea-themed creature and built a 6-foot-tall puffer fish. While it attracted attention, including some local news coverage, they didn’t intend it to become an annual tradition.

The next year, though, they were inspired to make a 12-foot-tall walrus. In 2014, they spent 95 hours creating Sharky the Shark—16 feet tall, 25 feet long and 9 feet wide. Next came Snappy the Turtle, who took more than 300 hours to build.

By 2016, they decided they wanted their snow-building efforts to have a more meaningful impact, so they partnered with One Day's Wages and raised more than $17,000 for clean water in Haiti. Their 18-foot-tall creation, Octavius the Octopus, also grabbed the attention of NBC Nightly News and the Weather Channel.

Finnegan the Fish—22 feet tall, and 350 hours in the making—came next; the brothers raised $25,000 for clean water in Malawi, Africa.

2018 turned out to be a tough year due to low snowfall, but the city of New Brighton and others stepped in with truckloads of snow, and Diggs the Lobster helped raise more than $16,000 for clean water. 2019’s sculpture, 23-foot-tall Slinky the Snail, also required trucked-in snow, but was completed after 600 hours of work. The brothers raised $31,000 for clean water in Vietnam.

The brothers haven’t said how long they’ll keep the tradition going, indicating they take it one year at a time.