Holiday carvings spread cheer in Winnipeg


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What's mean and green and hates Christmas?

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What’s mean and green and hates Christmas?

It’s Mr. Grinch, but this time, he’s helping people celebrate the festive season.

A two-and-a-half metre sculpture of the character from the Dr. Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas! — the latest creation by artist Leigh Keast that he formed out of green-coloured snow and ice — is catching the attention of passersby on Aberdeen Avenue.

A team of snowy reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh in front of Leigh Keast's North End yard. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

The Grinch is accompanied by Keast’s recreation, in his front yard, of a team of reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh.

Keast said he’s been creating whimsical snow and ice sculptures in his front yard for the past six years or so, including Looney Tunes characters, a menagerie of zoo animals, and even a re-creation of Winnipeg’s police helicopter.

This year, Keast said, five to 10 cars have been stopping outside his home each day to take photos of his sculptures.

“People stop, they’ll each sit on the sleigh. People try to put their kids on the reindeer,” Keast said.

Keast uses plywood and pieces of pipe to frame and stabilize the sculptures. He builds up the shapes of the creations using a mixture of snow and water. This year, he used food colouring to give the Grinch its bright green hue.

This is not the first time Keast has sculpted the Grinch. Keast said he brought the character back this year because it’s one of his most popular designs.

“I think people relate to it. Everyone’s got a bit of a Grinch in them,” Keast said.

Leigh Keast with his snow sculpture of the Grinch. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

It took Keast about three weeks to complete the sculptures due to warm temperatures and the lack of snow.

“When we had that warm weather, the snow got all dirty and crusty. I’ve been battling warm weather and melting snow for the past two years,” he said.

When the snow in his yard melts or becomes too dirty, Keast heads to a nearby park to collect buckets of snow.

Vandalism has never been a problem, Keast said.

“People are pretty respectful of them. They’re also pretty solid,” Keast said. “You’re not knocking that thing over without a hammer.”

Planning for and creating the sculptures gives him something to do during the long winter, he added.

Keast uses plywood and pieces of pipe to frame and stabilize the sculptures. He builds up the shapes using a mixture of snow and water. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

“It gets me out of the house. Winter’s always depressing. I always say it’s my winter therapy.”

Keast may add more sculptures to his yard in the new year.

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