What's this guy made of? Tumbleweed snowman makes 2022 appearance in Albuquerque Tuesday - Albuquerque Journal

What’s this guy made of? Tumbleweed snowman makes 2022 appearance in Albuquerque Tuesday

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Don’t let anybody fool you with this nonsense that Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the official start of the Christmas season.

In Albuquerque, the official start doesn’t happen until motorists see Tumbleweed Snowman – that’s his formal name – sitting atop his perch along the north side of Interstate 40, just west of Carlisle, said Nolan Bennett, director of operations for the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority.

Workers from AMAFCA, which assembles the now-iconic figure each year, were up early Tuesday using a Bobcat loader to move and secure a raised platform with the assembled Tumbleweed Snowman into position, while passing cars and trucks sounded their horns in appreciation.

Mr. Snowman first made his appearance in 1995 and is now in his 27th reincarnation, Bennett said. The tumbleweeds used to create him are newly collected each year, usually from sites around Bernalillo County. “This year we had to reach out to our neighbors in Valencia County because tumbleweeds were a little sparse here in Bernalillo County,” Bennett said.

To be clear, Tumbleweed Snowman is not a bunch of dried out smaller Russian thistle weeds compressed together. Rather, the three mounds of the snowman are three separate tumbleweeds stacked one atop the other, with the stem side facing up, making them a bit more stable. A metal support pole rises up through the center of the tumbleweeds and the entire snowman, spray-painted white, is mounted on and wired to a raised platform that allows the 12-foot-tall figure to be seen above the interstate’s border wall.

Wiring Tumbleweed Snowman to the platform is done out of necessity. About 11 years ago, Bennett said, a wind storm knocked the snowman over and he was found rolling down the interstate – thumpity, thump, thump.

Once in place, AMAFCA workers attached the final “snowman” touches. Two broom handles with gloves become arms, an orange-painted ax handle is a nose, a portion of a 55-gallon steel drum serves as a hat, and bits of scrap metal form his eyes, mouth and midsection buttons.

AMAFCA welder James Moya said that Tumbleweed Snowman’s lengthy knitted scarf was made by his mother-in-law, Liz Ortega. “She’s retired, so she had the time,” he said.

The Tumbleweed Snowman will remain at the site until shortly after the new year.

AMAFCA was created in 1963 and is charged with maintaining dams, diversion channels, about 100 miles of lined and unlined arroyos and a host of water features that provide flood protection in and around Albuquerque, Bennett said.

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