One of Albuquerque’s best holiday gems is the Tumbleweed Snowman set up by the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA).
Nolan Bennett, director of operations at AMAFCA, says the company is responsible for maintaining approximately 100 miles of channels. Maintenance includes trash and debris disposable, with tumbleweeds making up a large portion of the debris.
While small, rolling tumbleweeds may come to mind, New Mexico tumbleweeds can grow to gargantuan size. In fact, the snowman is comprised of three or two very large tumbleweeds rather than several small ones.
According to Bennett, early November officially kicks off the gathering of tumbleweeds, which are often stored in a large dump truck until needed. Enthusiastic locals are known to call in with the discovery of possible candidates for the project. Sprayed with white paint prior to assembly, the snowman takes around three hours to create with a crew starting around 6:30 a.m. and finishing around 8:30 a.m. Over the years, accessories have been added to the assembly, including a handmade scarf knitted by a crew member’s mother-in-law.
Assembling Tumbleweed Snowman
The Tumbleweed Snowman has made an annual appearance since its debut in 1995. In fact, the AMAFCA has officially dubbed the first Tuesday following Thanksgiving as “Tumbleweed Tuesday.” Don’t be surprised if you hear the excited honks of passing cars as they recognize this special gem. The Tumbleweed Snowman is up for display Tumbleweed Tuesday through the first week of January.
Per Bennett, “AMAFCA took a universally hated item and made it something fun.” This concept has connected with people all over the country. A neighboring Holiday Inn Express often accommodates guests from all over the country who are coming to pay the snowman a visit.
Ready to greet you each December
Viewers can find the snowman along westbound I-40, just before exit 159D. It can’t be missed with its 12-15 foot frame and 55-gallon steel drum hat. The company has thoughtfully created banners that tell the history of this special icon. The banners hang from the DOT access fence located in the AMAFCA parking lot. With just the right angle you can capture a selfie with this special snowman. Don’t worry … we won’t tell Frosty.
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