On February 8, 1690, according to a very believable legend and historical commentary, a 220-man war party of French Canadian soldiers and Sault and Algonquin Indians from Montreal arrived in deep snow and a blizzard to find the north gate of the Stockade open, with no “sentinels” other than a pair of snowmen. [click on the detail image to the right to see a well-known Massacre woodcut; and here for a new depiction by H. Van Voast.] The 400 good people of the tiny village of Schenectady were asleep in their beds or raising tankards at Douwe Aukes Tavern (or perhaps the unlicensed Van Slyck establishment on Cucumber Alley). The invaders naturally accepted the Dutch hospitality, waltzed right in, and perpetrated the great Schenectady Massacre, killing 60 and burning down almost the entire village. [For a fuller account, see the posting at our sister weblog, “have we learned the lessons of the 1690 Schenectady Massacre?“; and see The History of the Snowman by Bob Eckstein (Simon & Schuster, NY, 2007, at 210-212).]
If a Canadian and Indian delegation had arrived at the Stockade yesterday (Saturday, February 6, 2016), for the first-ever event Celebrate the Snowman – Commemorating the 1690 Massacre – they would have found no snow (and no gate), and a somewhat miraculous, tiny “real” snowman near North Ferry Street on Union Street [see L]. If they headed past Lawrence the Indian, to the Mohawk River, they would have encountered a small “party” of hardy Stockadians alongside the silent Riverside Park canon, with their ragtag army of artificial snowmen. Although nature provided no snow, it did offer a beautiful glow from the setting sun. [See the Slideshow below.] The 2016 militia was led by Carol DeLaMater, Susan DuFour, and Susan Brink. Where they imbibed after their parkside event is unknown.
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The predicted lack of snow did not prevent, and actually stimulated, a stalwart effort over the past week to whip up some excitement for the Celebration of the Stockade Snowman. [E.g., see the February 2016 Stockade Spy; and coverage at Today’s Snowman (Feb. 3, 2016). And, at several Facebook pages, such as here and there.] Here’s a collage showing various snowless snowmen stationed around the Stockade to highlight the Celebration:
. . click on the above collage for a larger version. .
. . above: [L] real, fake and shadow snowmen in front of 203 Union Street. [R] a Celebration scene at the Esplanade
. . above: couple celebrating Mardi Gras, too . .
This Slideshow has a couple dozen photos from the February 6 Snowman Celebration event, with most shots taken at Riverside Park. Special thanks goes to Sarah, Charlie and Sam Schneiderwind, who scouted out a cache of snow, brought it back to their home on Union Street, and provided the event with its sole “real” snowman.
. [L] This sentinel snowman carries on the great Stockade-Tavern-Tradition, losing his head and forgetting to guard the gates. (Thanks to C. Gelarden for the photo)
The following collage is pretty much self-explanatory; thanks to the guest photographers for capturing Stuffy, whose smile belies the name I’ve given him.
Finally, here’s a second Slideshow, featuring the “fake/artificial/special/longer-lasting” snowmen scouting the neighborhood prior to Saturday’s event.
p.s. Speaking of Stockade tradition, artifice and fun, later this week, it will be Valentine’s Day (Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016). If you would like to give your beloved a lasting symbol of Stockade whimsy and romance, consider a copy of my photobook “Valentine Flamingos in the Schenectady Stockade” (2016, 2nd Ed.) The 2nd edition has photos taken from 2009 to 2015, with a page covering the 2015 visitation of pink flamingos at Lawrence Circle. I recently acquired a few softcover versions of the popular 8″x8″, 20-page book, and will make them available (as always) at my actual printing cost of only $13.00 each (thanks to major discounts at Shutterfly).
Also, just in case we never have Stockade snow and ice floes again, you might want to give yourself or your loved ones my book “Jamming on the Mohawk: ice floes and jams along the Mohawk River near the Schenectady Stockade,” also at $13 for a softcover version. See our Photobooks page for links allowing you to preview other photobooks, too.
Please contact me, if you are interested. Supplies really are limited.