Snowking re-opens castle
Wave of community support washes over snow castle following theft

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 24/00) - A change of heart and a generous outpouring of support from the community opened the doors to the snow castle a day after the Snowking slammed them shut.

"I had time to think about it, and I realized I acted hastily," said Snowking Anthony Foliot. "I was taking it out on the whole town instead of the one person who did it."

Last Wednesday someone walked off with a giant pickle jar of donations visitors of the castle had made since another thief emptied the same jar the previous week.

The elaborate castle is built out of snow blocks on the ice of Yellowknife Bay by Foliot. A winter-long project, the castle has become a favourite attraction for local kids and adults as well as tourists.

The second theft angered Foliot. When he learned of it, the Snowking blocked the entrance to the castle and said it would stay shut for the rest of the winter except for planned weekend events.

The Snowking's change of heart was also prompted by generous community response to the thefts.

Leading the outpouring of support was Sam Thornhill, owner of Territorial Drywall. The day he read of Foliot's reaction to the second theft, he went down to the castle and spoke to the Snowking.

"I asked him how much he had stolen and he figured about $200," said Thornhill. "So I gave him the $200 that was stolen and made a $100 donation.

"The main reason I did it was for the kids. I've got two kids of my own and they just think (the snow castle) is fabulous, the way it looks."

The Snowking said another supporter wrote out a cheque and there was a significant increase in donations from weekend visitors.

Foliot has built castles on the ice near his houseboat each of the last six winters. He receives some help from volunteers, but it is largely a one-man effort.

The castle receives some support from local businesses. For the first time, the city this year contributed to the castle, providing a grant of $5,000.

The new donation box is a locked steel box chained to the wall of the entrance to the castle.

"I've realized not everybody is as honest as I like them to be. The chain kind of says it all," Foliot said.