• Sweden's news in English
 

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

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.

"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
Pirate Bay founder to appeal domain ruling
The Swedish state owns two Pirate Bay domain names after a court ruling. Photo: Marc Femenia/SCANPIX

Pirate Bay founder to appeal domain ruling

One of the Swedish Pirate Bay founders will appeal a court ruling to let the state seize two domains used by the controversial file-sharing site, his lawyer has told a Swedish daily. READ  

Sweden's bid to speed foreigners into work
Many foreign professionals struggle to find work in Sweden. Photo: Lena Granefelt/imagebank.sweden.se

Sweden's bid to speed foreigners into work

A new fast-track scheme's been proposed to help foreign skilled workers find employment more quickly in Sweden. The plans, which were presented by the Swedish government on Monday, could come into effect within a year. READ  

Russian veterans in Nazi attack on Swedish Ikea
An Ikea store in Moscow, Russia. Photo: AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

Russian veterans in Nazi attack on Swedish Ikea

A group of Moscow veterans has lashed out at Ikea, accusing the Swedish furniture giant of deliberately destroying war memorials in a move to help Nazi ideology take hold in Russia. READ  

Brexit
Brits in Sweden will get to vote in EU referendum
Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged that Britain will hold a referendum on the EU. Photo: AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis

Brits in Sweden will get to vote in EU referendum

British nationals who have been living in Sweden for less than 15 years will be allowed to vote in the EU referendum, while most citizens from other EU countries who are living in the UK will have no say on whether the nation in the European Union, the British government has announced. READ  

Royal Wedding
Avicii confirms DJ set at Sweden's royal wedding
Avicii performing in Stockholm in 2014. Photo: TT

Avicii confirms DJ set at Sweden's royal wedding

Sweden's most famous DJ has confirmed he is set to play at the wedding of Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist next month after befriending King Carl XVI Gustaf's son in Ibiza last year. READ  

Hero neighbour rescues young boy in window fall
The town Västervik in Småland where the fall occurred. Photo: Västervik.com

Hero neighbour rescues young boy in window fall

A six-year-old boy who fell out of a third floor apartment’s window in Västervik in southern Sweden was saved by a neighbour. READ  

Sweden hosts giant global 'war' air challenge
An aircraft preparing for the challenge. Photo: Försvarsmakten (Swedish Armed Forces)

Sweden hosts giant global 'war' air challenge

The Arctic Challenge Exercise (ACE 2015) is taking place in northern Sweden with more than 3600 military staff from nine countries practising how they might work together during war. READ  

Eurovision 2015
Eurovision winner Måns celebrates with pizza
Måns Zelmerlöw is greeted by happy fans at Arlanda airport. Photo: TT

Eurovision winner Måns celebrates with pizza

UPDATED: Sweden's Eurovision 2015 winner arrived back in Stockholm on Sunday where he was met by delirious crowds, before spending the evening with a pizza and his pet dog. READ  

My Swedish Career
'Stockholm is the prettiest city in Europe'
Joshua Goddard has visited all of Europe's countries. Photo: Private

'Stockholm is the prettiest city in Europe'

In this week's My Swedish Career feature, we meet a Kiwi teacher who relocated to Stockholm and became a semi-professional globetrotter. The Local speaks to Joshua Goddard just after he completed his grand tour of Europe. READ  

Swedish woman shot dead at Istanbul club
Istanbul photo: Shutterstock

Swedish woman shot dead at Istanbul club

UPDATED: The shooter suspected of having killed a Swedish woman outside a night club in Turkey on Saturday night is still at large, Istanbul police have said. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Eurovision winner Måns Zelmerlöw through the years
Gallery
People-watching: May 22nd-23rd
National
Why are Sweden's beaches among the worst in Europe?
National
VIDEO: Can you get your tongue around Sweden's word for 'nurse'?
National
How two million Swedes are designing a 'house of clicks'
Blog updates

24 May

 (Joel Sherwood) »

"Real American men don’t watch Eurovision. New video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQk5dUhGt-w ..." READ »

 

22 May

Editor’s blog, May 22nd (The Local Sweden) »

"Greetings from Stockholm, The hot topic in Europe this week is whether or not the UK will..." READ »

 
 
 
National
What's on in Sweden this week
Sponsored Article
Kristin Amparo: 'Swedes are afraid to be proud'
National
Five facts you need to know about Sweden's Eurovision entry
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: Nine questions every expat should ask
Sponsored Article
What it's like to be a student in Malmö
National
Why do one in three Swedes want to join Nato?
Sponsored Article
'No one tells expats about unemployment benefits'
Features
What to do in Stockholm this summer
Sponsored Article
Why expat women are choosing Swedish natural birth control
Gallery
People-watching: May 20th
National
How Sweden and Saudi Arabia got back on speaking term after row
Gallery
Property of the week: Västra hamnen, Malmö
Sponsored Article
'There is no such thing as Swedish values'
National
Why is support for the Sweden Democrats at a record high?
Sponsored Article
ConnectSweden: Examining Sweden's place in the world
Gallery
People-watching: May 15th - 17th
National
VIDEO: Swedish man's roar scares off charging bear
National
'Gang conflict' linked to latest Gothenburg attack
National
RECIPE: How to make Panna cotta with cloudberry jam
Sponsored Article
'Educated immigrants get stuck in limbo in Sweden'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Your May sun snaps
National
Sweden backs migrant sharing plan
National
Swedish boozing on the rise
National
Why Sweden's deputy PM was forced to apologize for Auschwitz analogy
National
End of the road for Julian Assange's arrest appeal?
Features
Booked to go to one of Sweden's sizzling music festivals yet?
National
Is Avicii set to play at Sweden's royal wedding?
National
Meet the Swedish boy who used to be a girl
Sponsored Article
How to change the world: Malmö to Mogadishu
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Estelle through the years
National
Why is obesity ballooning in Sweden?
National
VIDEO: The bizarre Swedish nurses song that's gone viral
National
Ecuador stray dog Arthur in Swedish charity race
National
UK expert: 'Sweden's current military state is alarming'
National
Elfdalian: a real language spoken in central Sweden in 2015
National
Is King's love for house tracks behind new military music?
Gallery
Property of the week: Hjortnäs, Leksand
National
Sex-crazed grouse terrorizes Swedes
National
IN PICTURES: Sweden's King Carl XVI turns 69
National
Dolphins spotted in Baltic
Gallery
People-watching: May 1st-3rd
Sponsored Article
'Never waste a good crisis'
National
Road trippers flock to 'The Bridge'
National
Why are Swedish supermarkets banning paracetamol pills?
Gallery
People watching: April 29th
National
"In many ways Swedes and Americans are kindred spirits"
Politics
Did you know four Swedish party leaders are women?
National
Swedish rescue team stuck on way to Nepal quake zone
Swedish Hasbeens
Sponsored Article
Is the world wrong to connect Sweden with sex?
Sponsored Article
'Impossible' to run Skanska without Bromma Airport
Sponsored Article
Want to study in Sweden? Read why Stockholm is the best choice
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

3,337
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