A holiday tradition tumbles back into Elysian Park

The bodies are composed of tumbleweeds gathered from a dump. The black hats are fashioned from used plastic plant containers. The orange noses come from the tips of playing field cones left abandoned on the park grounds. Put them altogether and you get The Elysian Park Snowmen and Woman.

The five tumbleweed figures are the work of park employees and first appeared about 15 years ago in Elysian Park, the only city park where you can find them, said senior gardener John Salaises.

Work on these decorations begins shortly after Thanksgiving, when park employees head to a former dump in Griffith Park to select from hundreds of tumbleweeds, Salaises said. The tumbleeds are brought to the Elysian Park maintenance yard, where they are trimmed into shape, mounted on a pole and spray painted white. The hats, noses, buttons and eyes from previous years are brought out of storage and then added to the snowmen and woman (she gets a red cape with gold trim and red earrings).

The Elysian Park snowmen and their sole female friend usually survive the holiday without suffering much vandalism from park visitors. Strong winds, however, are less respectful, Salaises said. “I came to work the other day and found a snowman’s hat a block away.”

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