52nd Annual Snowman Burning welcomes first day of spring
Despite the cold breeze, spring had technically sprung in Sault Ste Marie as about 200 people gathered around a giant snowman.
A 52-year-old tradition at Lake Superior State University featured a flammable statue made not of actual snow, but a chicken wire frame stuffed full of shredded paper.
Nearby, people scribbled down negative thoughts and placed them near the soon-to-be inferno. Students from a fire science course stood by, ready to extinguish any rogue flames.
The school’s snowman burning ceremony was started in 1971, and pays tribute to a much older tradition from a village in Germany. Lake State’s version always starts with poetry — and this year, dean of student affairs Michael Beazley brought that tradition into the future.
“I’m very pleased to share the world premier of a poem by a world famous poet,” Beazley said. “Chat GPT.”
Beazely read a poem written by an artificial intelligence chatbot, trained to write human-sounding responses from a prompt.
“And if you ask the question, ‘Can you write a poem for me about the burning away of negativity?’ It’ll spout back four different stanzas and it generally tends to rhyme and keeps in pretty good pace by itself,” said Beazley.
Here’s part of it:
In the heart’s furnace a fire doth dwell — burning negativity; weaving a spell
As flames dance and shadows part, we cleanse our minds and soothe our hearts.
The actual burning didn’t take long – just a few minutes before the flammable Frosty was reduced to ashes.
As the fire science crew put out the embers, the music came up and students headed inside for warm food and a fresh start — free of the negativity that just went up in flames, and ready for warmer days ahead.