Snow days

photos by destinee ott/the register

Russell Smith enjoys the snow day on Eastern Kentucky University's campus by making a snowman.

With snow, there almost always follow snowmen.

Drive through any community in Madison County, and surely you will find one, two, or three snowmen waving at passers-by.

With this in mind, the Berea Police Department (BPD) has decided to host their first-ever snowman building contest.

BPD Chief Eric Scott's own children were fighting the desire to make snowmen on one of their days off from school due to the winter weather in Madison County.

Their grandmother, who watches the children since Scott and his wife both work during the day, was afraid it was too cold outside and so would not let them adventure out into the snow.

However, when Scott got home, he let them take a trip into the snow-filled outdoors.

"I told them, you go out there and build a snowman," Scott said. "Build me the best snowman you can."

The next day Scott brought up the idea of hosting a snowman building contest to BPD's public information officer Barry Manley. Initially, Scott said, the idea was to drive around the communities and take pictures of the snowmen they found and then post the 'best.' However, they decided there were too many snowmen. So, they put the contest out on Facebook.

Jennifer Napier, the treasurer for the Berea Chamber of Commerce in 2021, heard Scott speaking about the contest while delivering one of his daily road condition updates and decided she and the chamber could help.

"We have such a large connection and network with the businesses and entities," Napier said. "...I thought… We have the ability to network with members and bring in prizes."

Scott explained this was a welcome bit of help, considering he was planning on using his own money and buying a few prizes for the contest himself.

Scott explained before he announced the Chamber was assisting in bringing in prizes, he had around 100 pictures sent to him. Since partnering with the Chamber, the prizes being "bigger stakes," he said they had gotten even more.

The Chamber has reached out to local businesses to see if they would be interested in donating prizes worth $25.

She said the response has been "amazing," and before even reaching the 24-hour mark, 10 businesses agreed to donate prizes to the competition. The deadline for donations for these prizes will be Thursday, Feb. 25. Donations can be dropped off at Central Bank in Berea. More information can be found on the Chamber's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BereaChamberofCommerce/.

"Partnering with people truly allows us to help out the community," Scott said.

Napier echoed Scott's sentiment.

"Right now, there are not many events places can host with the whole COVID thing. This is another great social distancing event. Families are home and being safe… And it gives kids something to do while out on snow days… And for businesses, we're not asking for sponsorships. Just simple, small prizes. So, we're not putting a burden on those businesses. It's providing an all-around great, uplifting spirit for the entire community," she said.

"When I saw the pictures come in and families linking arms and smiling, and I'm thinking, there's so much negativity going on. We're not in school, businesses are short, people are struggling with finances... Then you throw a storm on top of it," Scott said. "So much of our job is seeing people at their worst. So, when I got home, and I saw people doing that (building snowmen with their families) and then I saw my own officers, with their kids … after working 12 hours or so, taking enough time to get their vest out of the trunk to wrap it around a snowman and take a picture. It made me proud."

The snowman contest will be running until Sunday.

Scott said he plans on hosting a community-wide vote on the BPD's Facebook page, which can be found at https://www.facebook.com/BereaPolice, on either Monday or Tuesday.

The police chief said the contest would most likely have as many categories as they can think of to match up with the total number of donations they receive from local businesses.

Categories may include: the best overall, the biggest, the funniest, the most unique, and more. The decision for whoever wins the contest will most likely be announced, according to Scott, on Friday, Feb. 25.

"I'm thinking we can bring a little joy to a lot of people," Scott said.

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