In November, a classroom of kindergartners listened attentively as their teacher, Robin Hughes, read them a book about snow.
“I was shocked that they had not seen snow,” Hughes, who grew up in Louisa, Ky., told The Washington Post. “It’s hard for kids to understand the concept because they don’t have the relevant knowledge.”
So Hughes called in a favor to someone she knew might be able to help: her sister in Danville, Ky.
“Do you want to build a snowman?” Hughes texted her sister, Amber Estes, in January. Estes recalled her sister’s request when her town was hit with about 10 inches of snow.
That text would lead Estes to build “Lucky,” a tiny and perfectly imperfect snowman she assembled that January afternoon. Days later, she sent the snowman — complete with blueberries as eyes, a carrot as a nose and two twigs as arms — on a nearly 800-mile journey to Florida in an insulated container filled with ice packs. Hughes and an entire classroom of kindergartners awaited Lucky’s arrival.
“He’s here!” He’s here!” the school’s receptionist shouted through the halls when the package was finally delivered.
If Lucky arrived intact, the plan was for him to keep his name, Estes, 59, told The Post. But if the experiment failed, he would be renamed Puddles.
Hughes cut the box open before she presented the snowman — or what remained of it — to her students. To Hughes’s surprise, Lucky had arrived almost intact. One blueberry had fallen off in transit, but Hughes used a toothpick to easily put it back into place.
“I was so excited because he made it and just the pure joy [the kids] had seeing this snowman,” Hughes, who lives in Tampa, told The Post. “They wanted to touch him. ‘Is he coming to life?' [they asked].”
Soon after Hughes discovered that most of her students had never seen snow, she traveled to her sister’s home for Thanksgiving.
“Would you be willing to ship snow to us if it snows?” Hughes asked her younger sister during dinner.
Estes, who is used to her sister’s bizarre requests, laughed it off and agreed. She said she thought there was almost no chance Kentucky would get snow thick enough to make a snowman, and she was even more skeptical that she could get one to Florida intact.
“I felt very confident that I wouldn’t have to live up to this challenge, so I accepted,” she told The Post.
But Estes’s weather predictions were somewhat off. The afternoon of Jan. 8, her neighborhood was covered in nearly 10 inches of snow. Estes knew her sister would eventually find out it had snowed enough to fulfill her request, she said.
So she walked out into the snow and, in a matter of minutes, she shaped Lucky outside her home.
She sent a picture to Hughes, and after about 10 days of refrigeration and planning, Lucky was on a flight from Kentucky to Florida, Estes said. It cost $78 to overnight the snowman through the U.S. Postal Service.
That night, she stayed up late tracking the coveted package. “It sounds silly, but I get emotional talking about it because I knew when I sent him, I would never see him again,” Estes said.
But Estes was rooting for Lucky. On Jan. 19, a postal driver delivered the snowman to SouthShore Charter Academy. Estes called her sister in a matter of minutes.
“Oh my gosh, he made it!” Estes said through tears.
Ever since, at least twice a day, Hughes said she brings Lucky out from the cafeteria freezer on a silver plate so students can touch the snowman and ask questions. Cheers, coos and wows fill the room every time Lucky is brought in. Whenever his coat starts to get shiny, Hughes said, she takes him back to the freezer.
“In a time when things are not normal for kids in the classroom and for adults … this little snowman has created happiness,” she told The Post.
Hughes plans to melt Lucky before Earth Day and use the water while planting a garden at the school.