Misawa Sailors Commence Snow Sculpting at 68th Sapporo Snow Festival

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Samuel Weldin

SAPPORO, Japan (NNS) -- Sailors stationed at U.S. Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa and its tenant commands began work on a snow sculpture as part of the 68th annual Sapporo Snow Festival, Jan. 30.

This is the 34th consecutive year the Navy has sent a team of Misawa Sailors to Sapporo to create a sculpture and take part in the world's largest snow festival.

This year's ice sculpture is going to depict a Navy diver wearing a dive suit used in the early 1900s.

The team started the diver sculpture from a 10-by-10 block of compacted snow and has 5 days to complete it. After that, the ice is blocked off and will be on display for over 2 million predicted festival visitors to view.

"This year's team shows a lot of motivation and drive; it's the end of day one and the diver and other features are already recognizable," said Chief Petty Officer Frank Ring, assigned to Public Works Det. Misawa, and this year's snow crew chief. "I am very excited to see the end result and what we can accomplish by the end of this week."

The Sailors were chosen by their commands as a result of their exceptional performance while on and off duty.

"This is such a unique and exciting opportunity," said Seaman Andrew Chazzarreta, attached to NAF Misawa security department, from Fort Worth, Texas, and a member of this year's snow sculpting team. "I am grateful to my command for selecting me, and can't wait to start interacting with the festival goers and put my best foot forward for the Navy."

In recent years, the Navy snow sculpting teams have sculpted replicas of "The Lone Sailor," an aircraft carrier, a replica of the surface warfare pin, the famous U.S. Navy Seabee logo "The Fighting Bee," and the Navy's oldest commissioned ship USS Constitution.

While in Sapporo, the Navy's team will once again be hosted by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) members at Camp Sapporo.

Along with Ring and Chazzaretta, this year's all-Navy snow sculpting team is also comprised of Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas Thornton, assigned to Public Works Det. Misawa, from Chicopee, Massachusetts; Petty Officer 2nd Class Benjermin Larscheid, from De Pere, Wisconsin; Petty Officer 3rd Class Gabriele Tate-Santos, from Boyton Beach, Florida; Seaman Desiree Ankney, from Hicksville, Ohio; Petty Officer 2nd Class Apolinar Nebria, from Long Beach, California; Seaman Jeffrey Postal, from Shawnee, Oklahoma; and Petty Officer 2nd Class Samuel Weldin, from Columbia, South Carolina.

There are many snow sculpting teams from around the world that participate in the festival every year. There will also be a professional snow sculpting competition held during the festival.

JGSDF and the city of Sapporo create some of the largest sculptures in the world, measuring more than 40 feet high and 80 feet wide.

The snow team from Misawa will stay through the end of the snow festival and travel back to Misawa the final day.