If you’ve stopped by a busy Pocono hub in the last three months, some unexpected tour guides have beaconed. A couple of them are smiling. Some are donning hats. A few are toting accessories. All are the Snowmen of Stroudsburg.
This seasonal encampment is the brainchild of GO Collaborative, a nonprofit think tank comprised of area citizens looking to strengthen the alliance among tourists, merchants, artists, and the greater community. “The Snowmen make downtown more attractive for residents and visitors of all ages, which increases customer traffic for businesses and boosts our economy,” explains Jim Evanisko, a Collaborative member and co-owner of Stroudsburg’s Gamut Art Gallery.
None may be named Frosty, but their larger-than-life presence has conjured an inviting glow in the heart of the municipality’s shopping district. Crisscrossing several streets, these nine handiworks are the endeavor of local artists who tackled the challenge of transforming sterile polystyrene balls into eye-popping designs. “Creating a three-dimensional, wraparound draft was new for me,” recalls Judy Moeller of East Stroudsburg. “I stand 5’1”. When my snowman was in its frame [for painting], it towered at 7’6”. Resting on the ground, each one is about 5’10” tall.” For Tannersville’s Tricia Lowery Lippert, physical suffering was necessary to breathe life into her art. “There were times I was lying on my back like Michelangelo. Other times I sat Indian-style on the floor for so long my hips hurt. At other moments, I had to use a stool or a ladder. It was an immense project, but I would do it again in a second,” she says.
For some, Mother Nature provided a bounty of prolific inspiration. Michael Glenn, of Pocono Pines, tipped his hat to the power of water while dedicating over 130 hours to his snowman. “There are 40 seascape characters on my creation — it’s an extension of a large mural I painted in Scranton. The transition from one project to the next was an easy one,” he proclaims. “I loved putting all the details into it.”
Channeling the importance of family was also key when applying brushstrokes. “My idea included winter activities and the fun children and adults have this time of year,” says Stroudsburg’s Thomas Dillon. Fellow Stroudsburger Grace Spezzano emphasized Main Street’s highlights. “I wanted to create a sense of familiarity,” she adds. “I used bright colors and animated characteristics to please young and old.”
Other participating artists include Maria Ferreris, Mount Pocono; and Doug Gilbert, Krystal Walz, Briggie Williams, all of Stroudsburg.
According to Evanisko, other towns have experimented with inventive motifs to help generate a spike in commerce. “Snowmen are the theme we chose for the Poconos, where winter recreational sports are big.” He notes that word-of-mouth remains the best form of advertising. “I met a woman who said that she and her kids didn’t want a map showing where the Snowmen were stationed. They just planned to explore, and seek them out on their own.”
By creating the Snowmen of Stroudsburg, he continues, the projected economic growth could exceed 300 percent. “This is something the entire family can enjoy,” says Evanisko. “The Snowmen delight children while their parents shop and support local industry. It’s a win-win situation all around.”
By: Tom Eccleston
111 North 8th Street, Stroudsburg, PA