2017-05-04 / Front Page

Snowfall winner just had tonsils taken out

By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff

WINNING THE ENTERPRISE snowfall contest is just what the doctor ordered for 12-year-old Jack Johnson of Washington, D.C., who had his tonsils out on Tuesday. WINNING THE ENTERPRISE snowfall contest is just what the doctor ordered for 12-year-old Jack Johnson of Washington, D.C., who had his tonsils out on Tuesday. Jack Johnson may have been dreaming about cold stuff on Tuesday when his phone rang.

The 12-year-old Washington, D.C., resident was on the couch recuperating from having his tonsils out four hours earlier when he got the news that he was the winner of the Leelanau Enterprise Annual Snowfall Contest.

“Wow! I don’t believe I did it,” Jack’s raspy voice rang out through his temporary interpreter, mom Heidi Johnson.

Jack’s guess of 123.5 inches was almost spot on, as 123.4 inches of snow was recorded at the National Weather Service station in Maple City.

And while a few white flakes were seen in the sky on Tuesday, the official end of the contest was midnight on Sunday.

Jack, a seventh-grader, came up with the number by counting off 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, putting the last two numbers together as 4.5 and then rounding them up to come up with 123.5.

“He’s a bit of a math guy,” Heidi Johnson said.

Jack’s dad is Patrick Johnson and he has 10-year-old twin siblings, Tommy and Erin.

Jack plans to put his $200 in winnings toward a sail boat or an iPod touch.

The Johnsons spend 10 weeks in Leland every summer, with dad flying up for several weekends, Heidi said.

“It’s awesome — we love, love, love it,” she said.

Reva Newman of Traverse City is having what might be called an extended run of beginner’s luck with the snowfall contest.

Newman has entered the contest three times and has won twice, taking second place this year with her guess of 123 1/4 inches. She won third place two years ago.

Maybe next year she’ll hit the No. 1 spot.

Newman said her guess just kind of popped into her head.

“I should have guessed just a slick more,” she said.

This winter’s snowfall is a little bit less than the 61-year average of 145 inches. Through those 61 years, a total of 8,845.9 inches — or more than 737 feet — of snow had fallen on Leelanau County.

The record low snowfall was over the winter of 1982-’83; the record high was recorded in 2013-’14.

Sheila Shevchenko has been entering the snowfall contest for at least 10 years and has never won.

That changed this year, as the Saginaw resident tied for third place with her guess of 123 inches.

“That’s great,” Shevchenko said. “I’m leaving for Vegas on Friday.”

While the check won’t likely reach her before she leaves, she’ll have at least $50 when she gets home, she joked.

Shevchenko said she’s been coming to Leelanau County every summer for 25 years or more. Entering the contest is always a fun thing to do, she said.

“You always have way more snow than we do,” she said. “We’ve tried to come up in the winter a couple of times, but it’s really difficult.”

Not because there’s too much snow, she said, but because there’s not enough to do.

Zoe Pearson of Ann Arbor also placed third, tying with Shevchenko with her guess of 123 inches.

“I can’t believe I won,” said Pearson, who has a summer home in Leelanau Township. “I’ve never won anything in my whole life. This is the happiest call I’ve ever had.”

This is only the second time Pearson entered the contest, she said.

“I entered once before, years ago. And I didn’t win.”

Pearson will also receive $50.

Rounding out the winners in fifth place is Krista Reay Berman of Florida, who will receive a signed copy of Ken Scott’s “Back Pages of Leelanau County.”

So has 12-year-old Jack ever actually been in Leelanau during the snowy season? Yes, he said, he was here over Christmas, though there wasn’t any snow. He went sledding at the Leland Lodge, but said it was basically just ice.

For now he’s just concentrating on getting better. That, Heidi says, means a steady diet of Gatorade, ginger ale, smoothies and a lot of Tylenol.

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