Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Snow fort spells fun for neighbourhood
Giant castle honours late cancer victim
It's snow fantastic.
A four-metre-high snow castle and slide that took weeks for David Neyedli to build is providing hours of frosty fun for kids across two yards on Home Street.
Neyedli has been building toboggan slides into a hill in his front yard for seven years. But this year's is "bigger and better than ever before" because he turned it into "Castle Carla" and dedicated it to neighbour Carla Stefansson, who died of lung cancer on Jan. 10.
"Carla was a dear friend, and the castle fit my perfectionist mind as good enough to honour her," said Neyedli, noting he also turned 40 this year and needed to prove to himself he's "in better shape than ever."
Neyedli has no children of his own.
"One of the things I really, really love in the summer is waking up to the sound of birds chirping. Winter can be kind of a desolate and depressing time period, and with the slide here, I'll wake up to the sounds of screaming, gleeful kids outside my window. That sort of thing is kind of the same thing for me. Kids are pure like a songbird, in a sense," Neyedli said.
On the front of the castle is a framed tribute naming the structure "Castle Carla" with two photographs of Stefansson. Neyedli secured the frame with tent pegs he froze into the ice blocks. Stefansson's husband, Howard, provided the photos -- a recent picture of Carla with a peaceful smile and a snapshot of her as a chubby-cheeked baby. The inscription reads, "Dedicated to the memory of Carla Stefansson, September 25, 1955-January 10, 2014."
Neyedli said Stefansson, his next-door neighbour to the north, told him watching from her second-storey bay window while he was building the ice castle kept her from "going crazy from cabin fever" when she was stuck inside during her cancer treatments.
Castle Carla quickly has become a gathering place for kids in the neighbourhood and beyond.
John Metalinos, Neyedli's next-door neighbour to the south, said he helped Neyedli when he could but was amazed at his determination in creating the magnificient structure.
"It's really good. So many people stop by just to look at it," said Metalinos, noting the structure is also in memory of his father, John, Sr. who died Jan. 30 at the age of 80. He said his daughter Brooke, 11, "absolutely loves this."
Metalinos said he and Neyedli leave out extra sliders and saucers so kids passing by can try it out.
"As long as they're respectful of it, we're happy. We are the Wolseley area here, right? Tree-hugging, mosquito-loving, sharing people," Metalinos said, laughing.
Across the top of the walls, the castle/toboggan slide has about 20 ice-block battlements -- the square blocks on top of medieval castles used for cover in battles, with spaces between for firing arrows.
A curved staircase, carved into the inside of the castle's hard-packed snow, is how you get to the top with your Crazy Carpet or saucer.
Neyedli guessed "hundreds of hours" went into the construction of Castle Carla since he started during the Christmas season.
The structure is fortified with ice blocks he made by hand by shovelling snow in rows against his house, stomping on it to pack it down and then repeating, layer by layer, until he had solid blocks he cut apart and stacked to build three walls of the castle.
"Some days, there's been 20 kids out here using it at once after school," Neyedli said.
And there's been an unexpected bonus. Neyedli said he's lost 10 pounds this winter thanks to all the outdoor exercise building Castle Carla.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 6, 2014 A2
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