• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

The man behind the biggest (and coolest) hedgehog in Sweden

David Landes · 24 Jan 2014, 15:10

Published: 24 Jan 2014 15:10 GMT+01:00

Every winter for the last 29 years, Englund, 57, has added a dash of brightness and fun during the darkest days of the year.

And this winter was no exception, as Englund was on hand at the city's bustling Stadsparken park for the much-anticipated unveiling of Luleå's "ice animal" on Tuesday.

As crowds of onlookers and journalists looked on, Iris the hedgehog, Englund's 12-tonne, snow and ice creation, was wheeled into place.

SEE ALSO: Sweden's most dangerous animals

"There were more journalists and photographers there this year," he tells The Local.

"I never imagined it would become so popular."

Luleå's annual attempt to encourage locals to embrace rather than loathe winter's chill began nearly three decades ago when the head of the parks department approached Englund, a hobbyist ice carver who works for the parks department, with an idea.

"He wanted there to be something fun to do in the winter. We had seen postcards where someone had pasted an image of a polar bear in front of a picture of the city. Of course, there aren't any polar bears around here, but there was something about the image that we liked," Englund recalls.

But constructing a massive ice sculpture of local fauna wasn't enough, he explains.

"We thought it should also serve some sort of function; that it could be something people could use rather than just look at. So we decided to make the sculpture into a slide for kids," he says.

Indeed, the backs of Englund's sculptures have a small track carved out that allows young children to slide down like wannabe Olympic lugers.

"It's extremely popular. Last year we measured that about 60,000 rides had been taken," he says.

IN PICTURES: Sweden's 'coolest' concert: an igloo full of instruments made of ice

So far, deciding on what animal to sculpt has been "pretty easy" for Englund, who this year worked with a team of three others to create the massive hedgehog "in about a week", although work was delayed by several weeks due to the mild winter weather.

"We want the animal to be part of the local fauna, nothing crazy like an elephant or something like that. One year, we had a domesticated pig, though, so there is some variation," he says with a chuckle.

Iris the hedgehog perched in Luleå's Stadsparken. Photo: Andreas Johansson

All the sculptures are made from a mixture of ice and snow, and then painted to make them "as realistic as possible". Sometimes foam or plastic is used to add additional detail. Iris the hedgehog, for example, has eyes and a nose made of styrofoam.

"To get the spines on her back, I cut and sanded about 60 broomsticks," says Englund.

Other animals sculpted by Englund that have graced Luleå's Stadsparken include a frog, a woodpecker, an otter, a wolverine, and of course, an elk.

Englund's favourite?

"It's hard to say, but I guess it was a family of reindeer. There was a mother and two calves. I was really proud of the detail. They were just really nice," he says in recalling the 2006 ice animal.

Being "current" or in the news is part of the criteria for being chosen as the Luleå ice animal, Englund explains.

Story continues below…

"There were some articles written last year explaining that hedgehog populations had been decimated in several parts of the country, so it seemed like an appropriate choice," he says.

Looking ahead to next year, which will mark 30 years of Luleå ice animal sculptures, Englund is careful not to let anything slip about what is the town's best kept secret every year.

"I'm sure we'll do something extra special next year, but we're not sure exactly what," he said.

Any clues?

"Well, we made models of two animals this year: the hedgehog and one more. Who knows, maybe that other animal might make an appearance next year," says Englund.

DON'T MISS: Top ten reasons Sweden is the best country for winter

The Local's Swede of the Week is someone in the news who - for good or ill - has revealed something interesting about the country. Being selected as Swede of the Week is not necessarily an endorsement.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Zlatan reunited with Mourinho at Manchester United
Ibrahimovic - who left French champions Paris Saint Germain at the end of last season - is reunited with Mourinho, under whom he played at Inter Milan. Photo: TT

Can the Swedish superstar recapture the swagger that eluded him at Euro 2016?

Kidnappers with chainsaw abduct man in Stockholm
The scene of the kidnapping in Stockholm. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

A man has been arrested after armed kidnappers bundled another man into a van and drove off with him shortly after noon on Friday outside the Bromma Blocks shopping centre in Stockholm.

Border Checks
Commuters to seek damages from Sweden over ID checks
The Öresund bridge. Photo: Erland Vinberg/TT

The Southern Sweden Chamber of Commerce is collecting commuters' names ahead of an attempt to claim damages from the Swedish state over ID checks in the Öresund region.

Why Swedes are so relaxed about taking gap years
Anna Tybrandt and her friends in Malaysia/Photo: Private

But the French aren't so keen.

Euro 2016
How Iceland made Swedes 'proud to be Nordic'
Fans react in Reykjavic after Iceland defeat England. Photo: Brynjar Gunnarsson

Sweden failed to make it past the group stages at Euro 2016. The fans needed a new team, and now they've got one.

Why this Swedish police dog has been hailed as a hero
Äddie the police dog has finally retired after ten years on the job. Photo: Christer Torlen

A heart-warming Stockholm Police tribute to Äddie the retiring police dog has attracted hundreds of replies and thousands of likes on Facebook.

Five facts on Manchester United-bound Ibrahimovic
Ibrahimovic is on his way to Old Trafford. Here's everything you need to know. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has finally confirmed his next choice of club. Here are five facts on the Swedish striker after he announced he is signing for Manchester United on Thursday.

Swedish state appeals against Roma register ruling
Fred Taikon was one of the eleven victims. Photo: Maja Suslin

A court ruling judged that the Swedish state should pay out compensation to eleven victims of ethnic discrimination, but an appeal has now been launched.

Ikea opens massive museum in Sweden
A scene from the museum in Älmhult. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

Flatpack enthusiasts rejoice: Ikea has just opened a 7,000 square metre museum in the building that once housed its original store.

The Local Recipes
How to make a Swedish chicken and strawberry salad
Chicken and strawberry: a better combination than it may seem. Photo: SwedishFood.com

Easy to prepare, this chicken and strawberry salad is the meal you need this weekend, trust us!

Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
National
'A Swedish passport means more than a British one now'
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
The Local Voices
The Syrian body-building champion fighting the urge to eat sweets in Sweden
Business & Money
Swedish banknotes expire this week
Blog updates

1 July

Editor’s blog, July 1st (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello and welcome to this week’s news round-up. The fall-out from the Brexit vote has come…" READ »

 

28 June

A message for British expats in Sweden (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"The people of the United Kingdom have voted to leave the European Union. As Prime Minister…" READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
People-watching: June 29th
Sponsored Article
International students in Stockholm partner with Nepal school
International
Foul-mouthed attack on young Swedish mother in England
Private
The Local Voices
'Having a Middle Eastern name makes life in Sweden hard'
National
Is this Swede the new Vincent van Gogh?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Politics
Citizenship applications up 500% for Brits in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
The humble Swede who sent England home from Euro 2016
Gallery
Property of the week: Torhamn
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Private
The Local Voices
'Sweden is the best place for people with special needs'
Sponsored Article
The man behind Sweden's biggest music festival
International
'A morning of sorrow': Sweden reacts to Brexit vote
International
Sweden opposition cools talk of 'Swexit' poll
Sponsored Article
US expats: Have you met your tax deadlines?
International
'Devastated' - Brits in Sweden shocked by Brexit vote
Sponsored Article
Malmö: Home to the best food in Sweden?
Gallery
People-watching: June 22nd
Sponsored Article
VIDEO: Why Malmö is the world's 6th best city for biking
Private
The Local Voices
'Swedes don't treat me differently because I wear a hijab'
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Culture
How do Swedes celebrate Midsummer?
Culture
Coming soon: Sweden’s smelly fermented fish
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
National
Assange lawyer: Sweden should recognize UN opinion
Private
The Local Voices
Why is this Syrian dentist who hugs like a Swede worried about undies?
Swedish nationalist 'shot and ate' lion and giraffe
Analysis & Opinion
'Sweden's residency revamp is harmful and inhumane'
Photo: The Local
The Local Voices
UNHCR boss: 'It's hard to start your life without your family'
3,248
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se