Michigan State University

March 20, 1971 : Lake Superior State University Celebrates Arrival of Spring By Burning Snowman

Jon Harrison

Annual burning of snowman on first day of spring at Lake Superior State University

LSSU welcomes Spring with the 47th Annual Snowman Burning on Friday, March 24, 2017. This year the event will include a tailgate party and live music. The event is open to everyone.  Location: Cisler Plaza

In 2016, Lake Superior State University celebrated the arrival of spring by burning a 12-foot effigy of a snowman representing Old Man Winter on March 18th.  Several hundred spectators received free daffodils and feasted on barbecued hot dogs. The reigning Mrs. Michigan Captivating, Arianne Davis, who is also head athletic trainer for NCAA Division II sports at LSSU, applied the torch to this year's snowman.

The first spring snowman burning was held on March 20, 1971 by a former campus club called the Unicorn Hunters. 

Traditionally, the ceremony has been held on the first day of spring to bid good-bye to winter and welcome to spring.

The ceremony takes its inspiration from the Rose Sunday Festival in Weinheim-en-der-Bergstrasse, Germany. In the festival, a parade passes through town to a central location, where the mayor makes a proposal to the town’s children: If the children are good, study, obey their parents and work hard, he will order the (straw) snowman to be burned, and spring will officially arrive. After the children yell their approval and make their promise, the snowman is burned.

Some people contend that smoke from the conflagration wards off blizzards and ushers in spring-like weather. The Unicorn Hunters validated this theory by the second or third year of the event. At that time, after the snowman was burned, a blizzard passed through the Eastern Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula but missed Sault Ste. Marie.

Students and employees of the university’s maintenance department construct the snowman mostly from paper destined for the recycling bin, along with a wood and wire frame. The snowmen are husky and stand 10-12 feet.

For more information about the history of the snowman burning at Lake Superior State University, click here.

Photos and video from March 18, 2016 event.

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