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SnowKing takes a sabbatical

No Yellowknife Bay snow castle this year

Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 14/01) - A winter fixture and a magnet to tourists and kids alike, the snow castle will not be built this year.

Self-proclaimed SnowKing Anthony Foliot, who has built castles on the ice of Yellowknife Bay the last seven years in a row, is taking a break this winter.

NNSL Photo

Anthony Foliot: "I've had to re-think my game plan..."

"I've had to re-think my game plan and it's probably more prudent at this time to take my show on the road and hone my skills," said a guarded SnowKing Wednesday.

SnowKing said he will be building smaller castles in remote locations of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut this year. He would not reveal where the castles would be built, other than to say, "I'll be heading north, where the snow is ideal."

Yellowknife Mayor Gord Van Tighem said the castle will be sorely missed.

"We will have a small hole in our winter this year," said the mayor. "(The castle) was something that was an attraction for the community and it was something that was a diversion for Japanese tourists."

The castles have been largely a one-man show. Each winter Foliot has worked full-time cutting and assembling the hundreds of snow blocks that make up each castle. Over the years the castles have become more elaborate, with the addition of towers, slides, ice arches and theatres.

Recently city hall and local businesses, recognizing the attraction the castle holds for tourists and residents, have provided some funding. But Foliot said that despite the funding and public donations, the castle was still a marginal undertaking.

"Normally it's like three months of minimum wage and this year that's not financially viable," he said.

Foliot encouraged others, particularly youngsters, to pick up where he has left off -- "There shouldn't be just one SnowKing, it should be a whole city of SnowKings."

The SnowKing said he would send an official SnowKing ball cap to every youngster who makes a castle and sends a photo of it to the SnowKing's "Corporate World Headquarters" at P.O. Box 1531, Yellowknife, X1A 2P2.

"We hope he'll be back," said Van Tighem.