It started as an innocent sculpture crafted out of boredom and a blizzard.
More than a year later, a Massapequa Park, New York, family had a 14-foot snowman hanging out on the front lawn.
Mike Fregoe has made a snowman every year, dressing him up to get a chuckle out of his neighbors. However, just before the Blizzard of 2015, he was laying in bed when an idea popped into his head. It involved a Facebook page, helping hands and a lot of snow.
When the blizzard dropped more than a foot of snow on their lawn, Fregoe started building a snowman as big as he possibly could. The goal was to keep him alive as long as possible.
"It kind of took off," he said. The Save the Snowman Facebook page is creeping towards 4,000 likes as of Feb. 29.
The original snowman lasted until mid-April of 2015. But instead of letting their efforts end there, the family stored a snowball in their freezer to reincarnate the snowman in 2016.
Fregoe is married with two children, both girls, aged 11 and 16. They help out, he said, but his youngest is more involved. Ultimately, it's Fregoe's responsibility.
He takes care of the snowman, sheltering him as best he can when temperatures rise or rain is expected. Using large tarps, he wraps the pile of snow up. As spring progresses, he gets an umbrella for shade.
"My wife still thinks I'm crazy," he said, laughing.
Keeping him in standing order can take hours at a time, especially when the weather isn't cooperating. As a home-based contractor, he's able to take the time, sometimes spending up to five hours a day to keep the guy in shape.
When not enough snow accumulates in his yard, he collects fresh building materials from a nearby lot where crews dump the snow after removal efforts.
Fregoe also solicits "snownations," a donation of fresh snow from fans of the project to keep the snowman at his preferred weight. Visitors will arrive at the house with coolers full of snow from their own lawns to contribute to the snowman.
Like any big undertaking, sometimes the snowman seems like a chore. But then, a visitor will stop by and take a picture or bring a snownation. That's what makes the labor worth it, Fregoe said.
"It's all about how happy the snowman makes people," he said.
Fregoe said the snowman has had visitors from as far away as Pennsylvania and Vermont, but his lawn has become a well-established Long Island hot-spot. He'll often receive letters from families who have visited, expressing their gratitude for Fregoe's efforts in lifting their spirits.
The goal is to make this year's snowman last longer than mid-April, maybe even making it to the first of May. Now that the snowman is so popular, Fregoe expects to continue the project next year, keeping the new family tradition alive.