At high noon Thursday Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie will mark the first day of the spring season by burning a massive paper snowman, as it has done for more than 40 years.

Spring officially arrives in the northern hemisphere at 12:57 p.m.

The first spring snowman burning was held in March 1971 by a former campus club called the Unicorn Hunters.

Traditionally, the ceremony has been held on the first day of spring to bid goodbye to winter and welcome to spring. Some people contend that smoke from the conflagration wards off blizzards and ushers in spring like weather.

The Unicorn Hunters validated this theory by the second or third year of the event. At that time, after the snowman was burned, a blizzard passed through the Eastern Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula but missed Sault Ste. Marie.

Students and employees of the university’s maintenance department construct the snowman mostly from paper destined for the recycling bin, along with a wood and wire frame. The snowmen are husky and stand 10-12 feet.