It's become something of a holiday tradition: A man, dressed as a snowman, stands motionless until unsuspecting shoppers approach, then suddenly scares the sugarplums out of them.
Freaky, Frosty the Snowman's evil twin, has been at it since 2011, racking up more than 90 million views on a YouTube channel that has nearly a half-million subscribers. Freaky's Facebook page has more than 137,000 likes, and RIP Films, the producers behind the series, now sell a Scary Snowman bobblehead. (They even have an iPhone app to alert fans of new episodes.)
Previous victims of the snowman prank include Times Square revelers, Comic Con-attendees and beachgoers on the Jersey shore.
The pranksters recently set up shop on Newbury Street in Boston, scaring window shoppers — much to the delight of onlookers, including a pair of Boston cops.
In a Facebook post, Jay Lichtenberger, one of the Scary Snowman masterminds, explained the process:
There are many factors that go into making this prank happen. First thing we have to do is find a decent spot to park to setup the camera where there will be nothing blocking the view. This is a lot easier with three people because then it allows us to setup without having to lock the camera in the truck. After we find a spot I place the wireless mic and snowman cam (Kodak zi8) in the head. Then I go ahead and put a fresh carrot on. At this point I call Brian's cell phone and through a bluetooth earpiece Brian and I can communicate. Next I take the bottom part of the costume and help Brian get into it. After that I place the head on. Brain gets into position and I recheck the camera and audio levels to be sure everything is framed up and sounding good.
Brian's hearing and sight are limited, so when a person is coming from behind I can tell him whats going on and when to turn, or not to turn depending on the person. We trust our great judge of character when choosing who to make a move on. [Let's] be real, we do not want anyone to have a heart attack on our behalf. After we get a great reaction I chase the person down to ask permission to put them in the video. Sometimes while this is happening Brian has already scared someone else and I miss the chance to get that persons permission. So you may see some blurred faces here and there.
We average about 10-15 great reactions an hour with a lot of not so great reactions in between. Sometimes large crowds gather for picture ops or to just watch and laugh as others get ripped by Freaky. Sometimes I wish there were more hands on the crew to get these cool moments on video. Nonetheless the show must go on.