The Origins of Frosty the Snowman

For "Frosty" songwriter, there must have been some magic in... Armonk?



His is not exactly a controversial tune. No “Like A Rolling Stone” or “Lady Marmalade.” It’s a seasonal chestnut, first recorded and made popular by genial drugstore cowboy Gene Autry in 1950 (before inspiring TV specials and animated movies). 

In other words, Frosty the Snowman’s story should be simple and straightforward: He belongs to Armonk, where the song supposedly takes place. They even have a yearly parade in his honor. An easy race to call, right? 

Except for vague rumblings from White Plains. 

“I don’t know what they say there, but, in Armonk, we feel like Frosty is ours,” says Edie Martimucci, head reference librarian at the North Castle Public Library. “For years, we’ve had a parade in his honor. It starts on the outskirts of town, goes down Main Street, and ends with a big tree-lighting ceremony. Someone dresses up like Frosty; we have floats, a marching band, town board members.”

In 2011, late, beloved town board member Becky Kittredge told the Journal News that it’s common knowledge lyricist Steve Nelson “lived [in Armonk/The Town of North Castle] for many years, he imagined the song in our town.” Kittredge even claims Nelson had Armonk’s former chief of police, John Hergenhan, in mind, as the policeman in the song hollers, “Stop!” 

What, then, of White Plains? 

In a radio interview she did with CBS the year prior, Kittredge claimed she did the research—no question, Nelson set the famous little story nowhere but in Armonk. She told the interviewer, “To me, it’s frustrating that this has become a big issue.” 

Robert Hoch, president of the White Plains Historical Society, brings no strong opposition. “There’s one member of our board who thought they heard something about ‘Frosty’ being set here,” says Hoch. “We don’t have any hard facts. We’re still looking into it, however.”

So, for the time being, the jolly snowman is all Armonk’s (as the municipality proudly heralds over on armonkfrosty.com). If any shocking revelations are unearthed between now and Christmas, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, we’ll end this with a quote from an old John Ford film: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

 

 

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