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Massive snowman in Moville, Iowa, survives winter thaws

Massive snowman in Moville, Iowa, survives winter thaws


MOVILLE, Iowa | Grace Bennett, a Woodbury Central sixth-grader, finds herself many days looking with anticipation when traveling midway from home to school.

Bennett is scanning the status of a gigantic snowman on a main street corner, about a block from the Woodbury County Fairgrounds in Moville.

Did warmer temperatures melt him down? Is the creator out working on the snowman? What new clothing adorns Mega Man?

"It is pretty cool. No one has done that in Moville, ever, that I've seen. Wow, it is so big," Bennett said.

Surviving a few winter thaws -- including a five-day December thaw when highs ranged from 53 to 58 degrees and a three-day warm spell last week in advance of Tuesday's blizzard -- the size of a massive snowman never seems to shrink. There was green grass all around the yard Monday, hours before last week's winter blast struck, but snow guy, who doesn't have a name, lived into the start of a third month.

"It looks like a pregnant snowman now. It is big and fat," creator Mike Robley said Thursday.

Robley, who lives at 603 Main St., takes great pride in keeping the snowman growing, which was started after three substantial snows that hit Siouxland before Dec. 1. Robley said there was no hand-to-forehead genesis for starting and maintaining colossus man, other than he needed an exercise outlet to offset his diabetes.

"My doctor told me I needed to get a hobby. That's why I do it. It gives me something to do, instead of walking up and down the streets. I'm an old guy, 65, it gives me exercise," said Robley, who has lived in Moville for two years.

OK, but why a snowman for exercise? Robley says he got competitive with two kids just west across the street after they built a 6-foot-high snowman. He's roughly doubled that height.

"I thought, 'Well, I'll show them I could build a bigger one,' and I just kept going," he said.

Bennett has enjoyed seeing the hats and other outfits Robley has thrown on the snowman. A skirt was on it once, raising the possibility it may be a "snow woman."

"He put a wig one day on him. It was really funny," Bennett said.

Lots of people stop by to take photos, including once when about 10 children were there, Robley reports. Some people have never seen him work on it, since Robley often uses the overnight hours to plumpify the attraction.

Tuesday's blizzard dumped a foot of snow in Moville, and on Wednesday Robley said he thought the new snow was too soft and not sticky enough to add to his creation. Yet he couldn't sleep that night, and from midnight to 3:30 a.m. Thursday Robley really added to its girth.

"If you throw a shovel (of snow) real hard, it was sticking. It grew a lot," he  said.

As the snowman has grown, Robley has used ladders, wheelbarrows and most recently scaffolding for his work.

"I got tired of walking up and down the ladder," he said of the scaffolding.

Robley shared his secret that prevents melting in warm periods, which involves throwing tarps over the snowman. His goal is to keep his snow creation going well into spring.

"It will probably be there in May ... It is big, it is solid, it will last a long time," Robley said.

Woodbury Central student Bennett hopes there is a long life.

"I want it to stay, because it is really an attraction to Moville," she said.


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