When the Snow King was first constructed 10 years ago, its creators had no idea how much the festival would grow over the years.
Dawnita Johnson and Erica Thadeour were among the first people to bring what is now the Snow King Masque Parade to life. The massive head to the Snow King started off as a drawing on a piece of paper in blue pencil, and morphed into the larger-than-life puppet that dazzles the crowd in Spirit Square every year.
“The original Snow King reflects back to the Sno King’s Kastle, which was the Snowmobile Club’s clubhouse. It was an old log building, and apparently all sorts of funny things happened there,” said Joyce deBoer, one of the lead organizers of the event for the past 10 years.
The first year the event paid tribute to that tradition, and there has been a different theme every year since. Of course the Snow King, which has seen a few touch-ups over the years, comes back for every event.
Johnson and Thadeour spent weeks constructing the head, letting it dry between each layer. It came right down to the wire, with the ladies working on it until at least midnight the night before the inaugural parade.
“That first year I think there was something like 100 or 150 people,” said Thadeour.
“In the beginning we saw it as a way to bring the community together in the middle of winter. and to have a celebration that would include families and children,” said Johnson.
And they definitely accomplished that. Families and children have been coming into the Snow Kings Playhouse to make lanterns, costumes, and more to be a part of the celebration.
It has definitely changed over the decade, with the crowds getting larger it became less feasible to continue with the parade aspect of the event.
“We were losing too many young families with children when we started moving, so last year we kept it all in Spirit Square with the dance right after the pageant, and everyone really liked the way that went,” said deBoer.
This year’s Snow King Masque Parade is Saturday (Feb. 13) in Spirit Square at 6:45 p.m. The pageant will include music, dancing, stilt walking, giant puppets, snow and ice carving, shadow plays, fire spinning, and other circus arts. Not to mention upwards of 1,000 people watching from the crowd.
It has taken a lot of dedicated volunteers to not only keep this magical experience going for 10 years, but to make it grow year after year.
“There are so many dedicated people who deserve a lot of credit for keeping this going for so long,” said Johnson.
“Joyce deBoer is definitely one of them,” said Thadeour.
“Every year when I send out emails to the volunteers and people working on it, I am sending it out to about 50 people,” said deBoer. “So there’s just too many people to mention. It’s just a wonderful group of people.”