Labor of love

HOUGHTON – Scott Desotell was fairly confident the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity’s statue would once again be chosen as the best for Michigan Technological University’s Winter Carnival statue-building competition.

Desotell, statue chair for PKT, said during the All-Nighter statue-building event Wednesday the fraternity, located on West Quincy Street in Hancock, won the competition the last five years, and he felt good about its chances this year.

“We’re definitely a contender for first place,” he said.

However, Desotell said the members of the fraternity weren’t taking victory for granted.

The theme of Winter Carnival this year is “Heroes and Villains Find Their Powers, in These Frozen Winter Hours,” and Desotell said their statue is based on the animated super hero movie “The Incredibles.”

Desotell said PKT had 28 people working on the statues.

“It takes about 2,000 man-hours,” he said.

Winter Carnival is managed by Blue Key Honor Society, and Desotell said after the theme for Winter Carnival is chosen, PKT begins the process of coming up with a topic for the statue.

“Every year we pick two or three members from our house,” he said. “They pick the best possibilities.”

When there was little snow on the ground at the beginning of January, Desotell said PKT members were concerned, but eventually the snow started falling and didn’t stop for two weeks, so they ended up with plenty.

Austin Kuttruff, PKT statue co-chair, said although the members working on the statues aren’t artists, the finished products are artful.

“I’d call it art,” he said. “It might be a little bit of insanity.”

Steven Saliga, Blue Key Winter Carnival statues chair, said Winter Carnival began in 1922. Right from the beginning of statue building in the 1930s, the All-Nighter has been a part of statue building, not a spontaneous reaction by one of the teams worrying about getting finished on time.

The deadline for statue building was 8 a.m. this morning, and Desotell said PKT members would work until then.

Tech student Josh Socha, who was watching the members of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity build their statue next to the university administration building with members of his family, said he usually takes a tour of the statues during the All-Nighter, and he’s impressed with what he sees.

“A lot of work goes into them,” he said.

Socha said during his first year at Tech, he took part in statue building, but a mishap meant the statue wasn’t judged after moving from one spot to another.

“Blue Key forgot where they put us,” he said.

Despite that, Socha said he still enjoys looking at the creations.

With Socha was Mary Lynn Socha of Green Bay, who said she enjoys making the trip from Wisconsin to see the statues, but she’s intimidated by the effort needed to make them.

“They’re impressive,” she said. “You couldn’t get me to do that.”

Justin Kosmowski, TKE statue chair, said the fraternity has been able to secure the spot next to the administration building for six years.

“As long as you put your application in on time, you get to pick your spot,” he said.

Kosmowski said TKE also had 28 people working on the statue, which was a representation of the Fantastic Four. They also put in about 2,000 man hours on construction.

Members of the Theta Chi Epsilon sorority were working next to the J.R. Van Pelt Library on their statue based on the animated film “Despicable Me,” and statue chair Stephanie Deptula said she was concerned about the lack of snow at the start of statue building in January.

“When we got here and there was bare ground, we thought, ‘Oh, no,'” she said.

Deptula said sorority members would work through the night to get their statue done in time for judging this morning.

Full results of Winter Carnival event judging can be found online at