About The Snow Contest

About The Golden Snowball Contest and Award

Every year I learn something new about the golden snowball contest.  Some of it I remember and will add it to the site.  A lot of what I hear about the contest I end up forgetting before I can get somewhere to write it down.  Sometimes I read different facts about it from different articles and try to figure what is what.  With that said and remembering I’m not a writer, here is what I have learned the last three years about the contest:

It was started by meteorologists in Rochester back in the late 70′s and ended in the mid 90′s when the Rochester national weather service closed up shop there.  One of the originators of the contest was Peter Chaston who I had the privilege of finally speaking to this year and received some great info from him about the contest.  From what I have been told is the contest was for the snowiest big cities in upstate New York.  I questioned about Binghamton being in the race thinking when I started the website that I perhaps made a mistake after I found and article that included them.  I was told by two different sources that indeed Binghamton did win the contest at least once in the past.

Peter said back then it was a fun time when it was time to award the trophy to the winning city and sometimes it was quite the event with bands playing and large groups of people coming out to watch the award ceremony.  Mr. Chaston has a bunch of ideas for the newly revived contest today.  One of the ideas I like would be to have a signs made up to place in the winning city’s area that would say something like “Welcome To Our City – This Years Golden Snowball Champions”.  One of Sean Kirst’s ideas is to name the Winterfest “The Golden Snowball Fest”.  A good idea seeing how Syracuse so far is the King of the contest.

I’ve read different things about the old trophy.  Some of the articles state that it was an old baseball trophy modified to put a tennis ball on top.  Another article stated that it was a rubber ball painted gold on top of the trophy.  If the picture I saw was the old trophy, I tend to agree with it being a rubber ball.  Not that it is all that important.  Rumor also has it that the original trophy was last seen during the time when the late Mayor Lee Alexander was in office.  If anyone has any info on the where abouts of the old trophy, please contact me.  I’d love to see the original trophy.  The new trophy was donated by a local trophy shop in Syracuse which I’ll name here once I can find where I put the info : )

Several years went by without the Golden Snowball contest until 2002 when Steve McLaughlin and another meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo decided to try and get it going again.  I know that Tom Niziol of the Buffalo Weather Service, now with The Weather Channel is another who is all up for the contest taking off again and was part of it’s resurrection.  When I read an article and decided to throw up the website.  In my opinion the revival of the contest is off to a good start gaining interest of more and more people each year.  There has been many articles written about the contest by local and national news organizations.  Even Saturday Night Live has made fun of the contest during their news segment on the show.  That’s what the contest is about.  Having some fun with it while winter passes by.

Syracuse has won the contest for the last 10 seasons.  They own the bragging rights and deserve them for now anyways.  Sooner or later they will be knocked of the snow pile and one of the other city’s will be crowned King of the Hill.  It will be interesting to see which city it is.

Please feel free to drop us an email if any of what is written here is incorrect or if you have some good info about the contest to share.  Email us at thegoldensnowball @ gmail.com and take away the spaces.

10 thoughts on “About The Snow Contest

  1. Just curious, wondering what are the dates of the beginning/end of the snow measuring season. Looked around, but didn’t see it on the website.

    Also, how about getting the local TV weathermen to mention the stats in the various cities once in a while? They never mention it.

    Nice site, keep it up,


    • Hi Jim, I normally start updating the stats on the site as soon as one of the city gets some snow. I believe that The National Weather Service has the snow season from July 1st until June 30th. In other words I think that they will report any snow that falls between that period. I did have a meeting with a city official years back to try and set some rules. I forget what the start date was but he wanted the end date to be April 1st and I wouldn’t agree to that. Too soon in our area as I’m sure you know. To me the season should go until the last snowflake falls. I did agree to May 1st :( but last season was a good example why that date is even iffy. Last season it was just a couple of inches separating Syracuse and Buffalo on May 1st. I did call the contest then buttttttt if Buffalo did go past Syracuse you can bet I would have called the Mayors office asking for an extension on that date and I know she would have agreed. To me it comes down to which ever city gets the most snow during the FULL season wins.. Hope that answers your question and Thanks for he compliment ;)

  2. Probably should update the “About the contest” text to reflect Rochester’s victory in 2011-2012. Syracuse’s long reign was broken. But looks like they’re back in the winner’s circle this season.

    • I’ll try to get to it in the next few days Owen. I have a few other things that need to be updated also. Thanks for pointing it out :)

  3. I’m relatively new to Upstate (2007), but have been following the contest closely for the last 3 seasons. My question is: Why not expand the contest to include other cities such as Utica,Glens Falls, or Plattsburgh. In my line of thinking this would show the entire geographical area’s snowfall in comparrison? Just curious. Thanks

    • Hi Ashton, several years back I was getting a lot of msgs from people in Utica about adding them to the contest. I was talking with one of the TV stations there about perhaps them measuring and maybe even getting crtified or whatever it is you need to do by the National Weather service. It never happened though.

      The problem is, is that none of the other cities have official national weather stats or stations to measure the snow like the current 5 that are in the contest do.

  4. I am pretty sure it is measured at the airport. That’s where it is measured for Rochester. I live on the eastside of town in Wayne County. We have gotten 64.5 inches of snow here.

    • Bridget,

      There was a short period when the contest wasn’t going on sometime around the mid/late 90′s. Leaving that out of the picture and going back a lot of years Rochester would have won the contest several times. Here is a page that has the snow state going back quite to the 40′s. Keep in mind that Syracuse and Binghamton’s stats started in the 50′s… http://www.goldensnowball.com/yearly-winners-golden-award.htm

  5. Where exactly is Syracuse’s snowfall total measured? I live on the northside and have seen nowheres near 37″ of snow this year.

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