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House of Thune takes second at national snow sculpting competition

St. Paul snow sculpting collective House of Thune had a busy February, placing second at the National Snow Sculpting Championship in Lake Geneva, Wis. and third at the Minnesota State Snow Sculpting Competition this year, despite the warm temperatures and lack of snow.

“We did three events in a row, World’s in Stillwater, Winter Carnival and then Nationals in Lake Geneva,” said Jason Arney-O’Neil, who acted as the team captain at all three events this year.

Arney-O’Neil, who has been a part of House of Thune since 2019, said the warm weather definitely impacted their creations this year.

“At Nationals, because it was so warm, we had to sculpt through the night,” he said. “We had to change our sleep schedule, and (the event) changed from four to two days, all while we were changing the design.”

“The sculptors all like that, pushing through the weather and the elements and the lack of sleep,” he added.

Arney-O’Neil said that their regular team captain, Dusty Thune, wasn’t able to participate in any of this year’s events because of an injury followed by an illness. He said Thune asked him to run the team in his absence, with artist David Aichinger along for all three events. Team members Kelly Thune participated in the World Championship and Jessica Turtle was able to participate in Nationals.

He said that, because it was so warm at the National competition, the team had to adapt their sculpture, which changed pretty dramatically from their original design, drawing up the changes the night before the competition.

“Our original idea was to do a tomatillo skeleton. Because it was too warm we decided to use some of that texture but added a face, based on Man-Bear, who is the brother of one of our teammates,” Arney-O’neil said. “He’s a well known sculptor who wears a bear costume and has a big personality and a crooked smile. We did a tribute sculpture to him.” 

Arney-O’Neil said that winning prizes and being recognized for their work is great, but isn’t why he creates snow sculpture.

“I go into these just having fun, we’re not always about trying to place,” he said. “We try to put out something people want to look at. It’s just a gathering of crazy people.”

“It is kind of a reunion party,” he added. “It was nice to have it in our backyard.”

Learn more and see photos of some of their sculptures at

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