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Forum News Service, Published February 09 2013

Nearly 2,000 gather to make snow ‘Angels for a Cause’ in Duluth

DULUTH, Minn. – Malosky Stadium doesn’t normally get a lot of use in February, but for a short time on Saturday morning it was crammed full of angels.

Hundreds of people – children, senior citizens and all ages in between – lay flat on their backs in the snow on the field where the Bulldogs play football, energetically waving arms and legs as a photographer chronicled the scene from a helicopter overhead.

They kept it up for a couple of minutes, just to make sure.

“It’s deep snow, so it was a little bit of a workout to actually move the snow,” said Naomi Martin, 22, a senior at the University of Minnesota Duluth from Lester Prairie.

All told, 1,877 people made snow angels as part of “Make Your Mark: Angels for a Cause,” said Crystal Taylor, publicity chairwoman for the event spearheaded by the Rotary of Duluth Club 25 and Proctor High School DECA. That was far short of the record of 8,962 set on the state Capitol grounds of Bismarck in 2007.

One goal of the event was to break that record, but not achieving that wasn’t too disappointing, Taylor said.

“There was just such a great energy and vibe,” she said. “It was a lot of fun, and we made our best attempt.”

But not necessarily their last attempt.

“People are already text-ing me, saying they want to try this again next year,” she said.

On Saturday, volunteers began arriving at the stadium at 7 a.m., preparing for the moment just after 11 a.m. when the simultaneous angel-making would take place. About 200 people volunteered, Taylor said.

To help early-arriving participants keep warm, members of the Duluth East High School cheerleading team served hot coffee and hot chocolate at $2 per steaming cup. That money, along with donations onsite and online, will go to Global Team for Local Initiatives, a nonprofit that serves indigenous communities. Specifically, the money raised, which Taylor said will be in the neighborhood of $14,000, will go toward providing clean water for the Hamar people of Ethiopia.

That fact wasn’t lost on Salam Girmay. A native of Ethiopia, Girmay moved to Minneapolis in 2009 and now is a second-year student at UMD.

Girmay, 19, made her first-ever snow angel about a half-hour before the big event, trying it out a few yards away from the football field with classmate Ashley Perry, 18, of St. Paul.

“It was cold,” Perry said afterward.

“I don’t feel that cold,” Girmay responded. “I’m excited to do this.”

Clean water is in short supply throughout Ethiopia, even in cities, Girmay said. “It’s an issue. It’s a big issue.”

While Girmay was a novice snow-angel maker, others were experienced but out of practice.

John Kohlhaas, 77, of Duluth, used an LL Bean hiking pole to help him get to his spot on the field. He needed the help because he has had back and knee surgery, he said.

Kohlhaas guessed it had been 40 years since his last snow angel. Kohlhaas, who was part of a family group of eight on the field, said he came because his sons and grandchildren asked him to.

“I think it was our wives that talked us into it,” added his son, Dan Kohlhaas, 42, also of Duluth.

Kathy Padelford, 58, left her home in Minneapolis at 6:30 a.m. to participate in the event. Some friends who had planned to come along weren’t feeling well, so Padelford made the trip on her own. She had learned about it on Facebook and decided it would be a noble cause, especially if it also meant taking a record away from North Dakota.

Padelford’s most recent previous snow angel probably had been a couple of decades ago, she said. Since then, she has had knee problems, and getting up after making the angel proved to be the hardest part of the event for her.

Worth the trip nonetheless?

“It was exhilarating,” Padelford said. “It was wonderful.”


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