When I got an email from my daughter’s preschool, titled "Snow Day!" I was confused. In the Northeast, where I grew up, snow days mean the school is closed. Do South Florida schools use fake snow days as an excuse to close? The message was even more confusing:
Eight tons of SNOW will be delivered to our preschool straight from the North Pole! The cost of bringing in the snow is $1,500.00 so for this special activity the cost per child is only $15.00.
Every year, Marty Enis, owner of Florida Ice Manufacturing, comes down from Westford, Mass., to deliver snow to South Florida schools, malls, and churches from around Thanksgiving through February. He’s kind of like a snowbird, but he comes here to work.
On the day of the event at my daughter’s Little Havana preschool, a truck arrives filled with 3-foot-tall blocks of ice that several men line up on a ramp, and then slide into what looks like an old train engine. That machine cuts up the ice, shoots it through a hose, and in a less than a minute -- presto! Snow.
(Technically, this is not snow, which is frozen water vapor, as opposed to frozen water liquid. But in South Florida, this distinction probably doesn't matter.)
The first group to play is the 1-year-olds. The kids are wearing a ridiculous amount of clothing for the 70-degree weather: puffy jackets, snow pants, hats and mittens. All of the clothing looks completely new.
But after a few minutes of sitting on the snow, the 1-year-olds are crying – a lot.
I ask one parent, Jorge Muñoz of Coral Gables, about his daughter’s reaction: “She’s still wondering what this white stuff is. She doesn’t want to sit on the snow because it’s way too cold, and she’s wondering why she is here.”
My daughter Juno, who’s 2, wasn’t very interested either. My constant suggestions that she touch or play with the snow are met with pleading cries of "nooo" and demands to pick her up as she tries to maintain her balance on the melting snow.
Jorge grew up in Venezuela, where it’s warm year-round. He says they did not sing about snow there: “We’re not as obsessed as Americans about the weather because it’s a non-issue. It’s always warm so why would you even care about it, right?”
So why do we care in warm sunny South Florida? I just didn’t want my daughter to be left out of a class activity. But is the reason for this kind of event driven by people missing some place with cold winters? Or just a feeling that Christmas here should match all the snowy imagery attached to the holiday?
Share your thoughts below, and tell us about the first time you encountered snow.