WESTFIELD, NJ — A Westfield family took advantage of the winter weather to create a huge snow sculpture of the popular anime character Totoro earlier this week.

Cindy Yu along with her husband Joshua Hecker and their two children, Maxwell Hecker, 8, and Julian Hecker, 6, completed the sculpture in two hours on Sunday.

The Tamaques School family started building around 2 p.m., before the snow had stopped and finished around 4 p.m. The snow Totoro holds an umbrella in reference to a famous scene in the anime story “My Neighbor Totoro” in which Totoro lends his umbrella to two girls waiting in the rain at a bus stop for their father.

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Yu said that, like in the anime story when Totoro gives the girls a satchel of acorns, a passerby contributed to the sculpture by leaving an acorn on the stool next to Totoro.

Yu said her inspiration for the snow sculpture came from her family's love of the character.

“The kids had read My Neighbor Totoro graphic books from the library and also saw the movie,” she said. “I myself was a big fan of Totoro.”

Yu added that she thought creating a giant snow sculpture of Totoro would be a fun family project.

“I’m not sure how it popped into my head, but I wanted to build something different than the usual snowman,” she said. “Given how much snow we had gotten, I knew I wanted to build something huge.”

To build Totoro, the family shoveled snow from the driveway which they packed down with shovels and cementing tools. The eyes and nose are made out of LEGO pieces and the whiskers made from sticks. The blue bus stop sign is an old ADT security sign covered with colored paper.

This is not the first time the Tamaques family has created art for their neighborhood. Yu said that her family created huge sidewalk chalk art during this past summer.

Melissa Fiorentino is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.

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