Holiday Tradition: Tumbleweed snowman comes to life along I-40

tumbleweed snowman

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) -There’s a chance you’ll see what has become a big tradition of the holiday season as you drive around Albuquerque.

Twenty years ago it came to life. This week crews placed the famous tumbleweed snowman along Interstate 40.

The tumbleweed snowman has become an increasingly elaborate tradition. Built with just one tumbleweed in 1995, crews now use eight tumbleweeds to build the snowman that many people have grown to love.

“I think it’s like Christmas has finally begun. It’s like iconic in Albuquerque and the state. It’s like now it’s time to celebrate the season,” said Julie Chavez of Albuquerque.

Throughout the year, the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority collects the best tumbleweeds they can find out of their 20 miles of arroyos around the city.

“The bigger the better. We just look for the biggest tumbleweeds we can find,” said James Moya.

Moya, a welder with AMAFCA, has been a part of this tradition for 15 years, making the metal smile, eyes, and buttons.

Moya’s mother in law made the scarf for the lovable snowman years ago.

Both Moya and AMAFCA Real Estate Manager, Jeffrey Willis, have been a part of this tradition for a while and remember when the snowman started out as just a raggedy tumbleweed years ago.

“The crew went out and got some really bad looking tumbleweeds and painted them up and put them out on the I-40 frontage. It started from there and every year they try to make it a little better and create a better snowman. Obviously, if you look at it this year, it’s almost 14 feet tall. They’ve come a long way,” said Willis.

You’ll be able to see the snowman along I-40 until the first week of January. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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