My dad, in charge of creating fun stuff to do at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, had an idea in 1971. He was sick and tired of winter. "Join the club," my mom told him, "we're all of us ready for spring to...spring."

And then, just like The Grinch, he sat puzzling and puzzling, and then what do you know? He said, "I'm going to burn some snow! Some snow snow snow! I will burn so it will know to go!" And just like that, the Snowman Burning was born.

SNOWMAN BURNING - 1976 LSSU ARCHIVES

It happened again today in snowy Northern Michigan. In fact, every year since 1971 a snowman has burned on the first day of spring at LSSU.

Well, that's not true. one year they gave it a miss when the Environmental Awareness Club protested the toxins released in the fire. That was 1992 (after my dad retired). And they never made that mistake again.

People gather, poems honoring winter (but telling it enough is enough) are read, and the giant snowman, created by the maintenance department, is lit. This year, they added an after party at a local place where coffee and adult beverages are available.

That's what got me thinking about it. I saw a Facebook post, it got me thinking about the burning, and, as usual, it made me miss my dad. He passed away in the early 1990s, and to be honest, the older I get the more I want to talk with him.

WT RABE COLLECTION

He did a lot of straight forward stuff publicizing LSSU, but then he had a whole bucket full of weirdly wonderful events that sparked the imagination, got people talking, and brought in news crews from around the world. Even at home, I keep discovering ways my childhood was so different than most childhoods. For example, that picture there to the right. He said, "Put your tuxedo and unicorn mask on and meet me outside." So I did. Because...dad.

SNOWMAN BURNING OF LSSU

Listen to James Rabe 6a to 10a on Y-105 FM