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"Everybody’s welcome” to visit gigantic snowman in Northland

Roger Tillman poses for a photo with Frosty, the giant snowman he constructed at his home near Kettle River in Carlton County. Frosty stands 22 feet, 6 inches high. (Photo courtesy of Roger Tillman)

Frosty is ready for his close-up — that is, if you want to take a picture with him.

One mile south of the city of Kettle River, off state Highway 73 in southern Carlton County, a snowman standing 22 feet 6 inches tall and sporting a red hat waits for passersby in Roger Tillman’s field with a sign reading, “Take a picture with Frosty” — with the additional polite note, “If you want to.”  

Tillman built Frosty in his field and drivers will see signs beginning on Highway 73 directing them to the mammoth snowman.

“Just drive in and take a picture. Everybody’s welcome,” he said.

He has been building snowmen every year for the past few years and usually constructed them on the shoulder of the road. However, he had so many visitors stopping to take photos last year that he was concerned that someone would be hit by a car and decided to construct this year’s snowman in his field, he said.

Frosty is built using snow from Tillman’s 3-acre field. This winter has supplied enough snow for the snowman, but in years when the snow is scarce, he brings in snow from where he can find it in the area. His 2015 snowman was 4 feet shorter because he had to go so far for more snow, he said.

He builds each layer by creating a circle with a wooden snow fence and when he has it filled and packed down, he moves to the next layer, he said. Although he builds it mostly by himself, he does get some help from friends and family, he said.

“It’s all done with a front-end loader that I built 45 years ago, a shovel and a lot of handwork,” he said.

Tillman created his first oversized snowman 26 years ago.

“I had time on my hands in winter and lots of snow in those days. It wasn’t a problem finding snow,” he said. He added that he took a reprieve for several years and then began building snowmen again a few years ago.