Macomb County sisters spend 40 hours building rainbow igloo, allow visits in exchange for random acts of kindness

Posted at 1:42 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 16:47:53-05

(WXYZ) — For Stephanie Newman of Macomb County, cold weather, she said, is really not her thing.

“I hate winter,” she laughed.

But this year, Stephanie said she was determined to try something new, to embrace those Pure Michigan temps. Sick of being cooped up, Stephanie was brainstorming ways to get her and her two kids outside, breathing in the fresh air.

“I had to give up my job to home school the kids, and we always just look for things to do to have fun . . . the winter was just getting long and cold.”

That’s when her and her sister, Lisa, who lives nearby, started on the journey of building a backyard rainbow igloo.

Photos courtesy Stephanie Newman

“It’s interesting, it just started out as a project to keep the kids busy, get them outside . . . all of a sudden, it was garnering a following on Facebook,” said Stephanie.

The pair posted their progress on the community page Rainbows Over Michigan, and the response was overwhelming.

“We realized it was making people smile, which who doesn’t need a little of that right now?” she said.

The engagement just fed into the drive for Stephanie and Lisa to complete the project, which took nearly nine days.

Photos courtesy Stephanie Newman

“We bought 100 shoe storage containers from Target,” she said. “We would do 50 at a time, while the other 50 froze.”

She said they would fill a set of the containers, which would take about 36 hours to freeze, and then spend time laying the colorful blocks that had already frozen, sticking them together with a snow and water mixture.

“We called it ‘snowcrete’ instead of concrete,” she laughed.

Stephanie’s children, Ethan, 4, and Harper, 10, have enjoyed helping and watching the process, Stephanie said.

Photos courtesy Stephanie Newman

“Ethan was a little workhorse, he would be hauling sleds of snow out there, bringing the bricks to us,” she said.

Even when the kids stopped working, Stephanie and Lisa pressed on. Stephanie said Lisa had recently lost more than 100 pounds and the project was a big motivator for them both to keep moving during the winter months while enjoying the time spent with the kids.

“I know a lot of people like to hunker down including myself, but it’s just so nice to get outside,” she said. “I’m not one for the cold typically, but we had a blast, we really did.”

Photos courtesy Stephanie Newman

When it was all said and done, after about 40 hours of work and 450 ice bricks later, the rainbow igloo measured 12 feet across and 6 feet high. They stuck a light in it, too, for some extra pizzazz at night.

“My sister and I hugged each other, we were really happy and proud of ourselves,” said Stephanie after they finished with the build Wednesday night. “It’s something that took a lot of dedication, but I also wanted to teach my kids that with perseverance you can complete things.”

Photos courtesy Stephanie Newman

Photos courtesy Stephanie Newman

The response was so positive on social media that Stephanie said she decided to open up visits to friends, family, neighbors and acquaintances to check out the space by appointment-only. She said she’s booking 4-10 slots a day and already has people scheduled to come by.

The only thing she wants in return is a random act of kindness.

She wrote on Facebook, “That's right.... promise to do something nice for someone and we would love to have you visit.”

Stephanie suggested that people can shovel snow for an elderly neighbor or donate to the Detroit Dog Rescue.

Photos courtesy Stephanie Newman

“Just some random act of kindness, spread a little joy,” said Stephanie.

“Now that the igloo is done, it will be like 50 next week,” she laughed. But even if it does melt, Stephanie said she’s OK with it.

“It’s really cool, we have a lot of fun pictures of it. It’s going to be, hopefully, a memory that my kids will have for a lifetime, the year we built the rainbow igloo, and that’s good enough for me,” said Stephanie.

Photos courtesy Stephanie Newman