3,000 snowmen set to invade Lansdowne for Crackup Snowmania Challenge in the Glebe
3,000 snowmen taking over an entire CFL football field is quite the site, and organizers at Alterna Savings Crackup Comedy Festival are poised that this is the year that Ottawa breaks the Guinness World Record for most snowmen built in an hour.
Ottawa broke the record in 2015, but Japan took it away a few months later, putting the pressure on Ottawans to up their snowman game. While it seemed that Ottawa had beaten the mark of 2,036 snowmen last year, some requirements for hundreds of the snowmen were not met, disqualifying them from the official count. Ottawa was awarded just 2,000 snowmen. This year’s Crackup Snowmania Challenge goal is 3,000 snowmen, and Festival Director John Helmkay is confident.
“If we can get as many people out as we had last year, and the snow is right, yes, we can do it,” he says, adding that about 1,500 people showed up to build snowmen last year.
“It’s all about the snow. How much is there and what the quality is. If everyone builds two snowmen, that’s all we need.”
Certainly anything will be better than last year, in terms of weather. Winterlude and Snowmania were dampened by mild temperatures, which melted snow sculptures almost as they were built and rendered the Rideau Canal closed essentially for the entire festival. This year we have heaps of snow, and temperatures hovering around -10C for the next couple of weeks – perfect for a winter celebration.
The Feb. 11 event is a fundraiser for mental health services in Ottawa. To date, the festival has raised over $190,000. And while money is one thing, Helmkay believes that awareness is the key in breaking down the stigma of mental health.
“Awareness is important to continue with the destigmatization efforts and to talk about mental health,” he says.
“We think it’s great that a number of our comics come out and talk about it. They are experienced in it, almost all of them.”
Helmkay is referring to comics like Ottawa’s Jeremy Hotz, who suffers from anxiety disorder, Big Daddy Tazz, who has struggled with manic-depression and Mary Walsh, who has been very open about her personal struggles with addiction. It’s important to have these big players become the face of mental health at the festival, says Helmkay, as it humanizes mental illness and let’s those struggling know, “they are not alone.”
This year’s Crackup runs Feb. 7-18, with the three big shows happening right here in the Glebe. The chuckles all start Feb. 16 with the Crackup for Mental Health, featuring Walsh, Carla Collins, Sharron Matthews, Big Daddy Tazz and more.
Canadian comedy legend Ron James then takes over TD Place Feb. 17 for a special two-hour performance starting at 8 p.m.
The festival then closes with the Comedy Night in Canada Finale Feb. 18 at TD Place with Debra DiGiovanni, Mark Forward, Derek Seguin and a headlining performance from Hotz.
This year’s Snowmania Challenge starts at noon sharp, Feb. 11 on the TD Place field. Builders are urged to bring arms, eyes and noses, along with toques, gloves and any other winter wear you want your snowmen to don. And remember, the snowmen must be at least three feet tall to be counted towards the Guinness total. Register a team or individual here and start polishing your snowman-building skills.