Sound barriers. Concrete overpasses. Amber Alert signs.
Weary Florida commuters on I-95 have little to see that pleases the eye.
And, then, there he is: a smiling goofball, with top hat cocked, a corncob pipe in his mouth and his gigantic green mittens hanging over the roof of the Cheney Brothers food distribution headquarters in Riviera Beach.
It’s not the holidays until I-95’s northbound road warriors glimpse that big, blinged-out Frosty The Snowman display. For many of us, he helps make the season -- and the slog home -- bright.
Every year, the folks at Cheney Brothers get a “ton” of calls thanking them for this jolly soul, who has been perched on the roof overlooking I-95 every holiday season since 2004.
“We know commuters appreciate the reminder of the holiday season,” said Kinna Denowitz, Cheney Brothers’ marketing director. “It’s a sign that Christmas is coming. It makes people happier when they drive by.”
Riviera Beach company Christmas Designers assembles the annual display. It’s a big job because Frosty is a big guy --he’s 42 feet wide, 36 feet tall and weighs more than 1,000 pounds, according to the company’s co-owner, Leonard Schulz.
In an email, Schulz pointed out some fun Frosty facts:
Frosty’s a snowbird. He was “born” in Hickory, North Carolina, and moved down here for the season in 2002.
Frosty is lit up from 970 LED C-7 bulb.
Frosty comes in more than 50 pieces.
Frosty’s parts are all transferred to the roof by bucket truck and put together in mid-November.
But Frosty requires some help getting up after the Thanksgiving holiday. A team of six workers use a crane and “special rigging and straps” to hoist him on his mittens (If Frosty’s got a lower torso, we’ve never seen it.)
It takes one day, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., to set Frosty in place, Schulz said. How does he stay put and not go running down the streets of town? Denowitz said there are a lot of heavy sandbags securing his metal braces.
While Frosty gets I-95’s drivers in the proper spirit, he’s also “a real morale booster” for employees at Cheney Brothers, which is extra busy as restaurants stock up on food supplies for the holidays, Denowitz said. “It helps alleviate a lot of stress,” she added.
Cheney Brothers has a renewable lease on Frosty, so while he melts away after the New Year and returns to his summer digs in a Riviera Beach warehouse, he’ll be back again -- just like he promises in the song, Denowitz said.
“We love when he goes up every year and adds a little Christmas cheer to the community.”