The most expensive snowman in the world

Photo: Milos Hak (MF Dnes, 9.8.2005)

How long does it take to build a snowman in the middle of summer? A radio station in the German city of Leipzig recently decided to find out and challenged listeners to take part in a snowman-building contest. The resulting scurry to find enough snow to put together a snowman led to an incident that is now being investigated by the Czech police.

A group of Germans from the border town of Klingental loaded up their vans with buckets and headed for a place where they knew snow lay on the ground all year round - the protected Wolf's Den ice-caves in Horni Blatna, in the Karlovy Vary region of western Bohemia. They raided the caves and rushed back -only to lose the contest to a team that built their snowman out of artificial snow. By that time Czech environmentalists were ringing alarm bells and the police were searching all vehicles in the border region - to no avail. They were fighting a race against time - because with a snow theft in the middle of summer- the evidence is bound to disappear pretty soon. Although the vans disappeared without trace - the police got lucky. A ranger had managed to take snapshots of the group loading their vans with precious snow from the cave that had been there for hundreds of years admired by thousands of tourists every year. Not only the cars' registration numbers but even the guys' faces were captured on film. Now environmentalists are assessing the damage and the incident is being investigated. The snow thieves are certain to face charges of damaging a protected natural habitat and the fine could be very steep indeed: up to a hundred thousand crowns. At that rate, although they didn't win the radio contest, they certainly managed to build the most expensive snowman in the world!