Gregg Montgomery, The Indianapolis Star
SPEEDWAY, Ind. - In a residential neighborhood just blocks west of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, an 18-foot-tall snowman stands watch over the home of Alan Burke.
Alan, 38, and his brother Eric Burke, 42, have built numerous giant snowmen outside Alan's Speedway home this month, and the latest - their fourth one - is a trio of igloos built atop one another into a mammoth that stands at 18 feet, 1 inch.
The brothers' creations came from the snow in Alan's yard this month. The tallest so far sports solar-powered yard lights for coat buttons and eyes, a street cone for the nose, and rakes for arms. A simple bucket tops the head for a hat.
"We started making the snowmen, I think it was January 6, right before the big storm," Alan said. "And basically, (with) shovels, wheelbarrows, buckets and 20-foot ladders, (we) just stuck the snow over there.
"The first one was 9 or 10 feet. The second one was 14. The third one was 16. And this one is 18," Alan said.
The first two snowmen were just for fun, Alan said. The third one took 36 hours. The fourth one is made of snow from the first three plus the latest round of the white stuff.
The brothers have not always been ready to pair up for such a project, since Alan lived in California and his brother was in Indianapolis. Both used the snowman building as a way to bond after the death of their father, Dennis Burke, at age 62. He died of lung cancer in October, Alan said.
All of the snowmen's accoutrements were items that had belonged to their father, who had worked at Federal Express for 25 years.
A neighbor who appreciated the Burkes' effort gave them a compilation of photos of the snowmen and titled it "The Evolving Snowman." The brothers added the words "In honor of our Dad 2014."
A lot of cars have been driving by the house in recent days. "People honk and wave and take pictures and stuff," Eric said.
The 18-foot snowman may not be the last, Eric said. "If we get more snow, we'll probably pile more (layers) on there."
(They've got a way to go to enter Guinness World Records. A 122-foot, 1-inch snow woman was built by the residents of the town of Bethel, Maine, in February 2008.)
The Burkes may be among the few in Central Indiana who are not tired of the repeated days of below-freezing weather.
"I'm lovin' it," Alan said. "It means the snowman is not going to fall down or melt or whatever."
Neighbors have stopped by the house to thank the brothers for "bringing the joy to the neighborhood while it's this freezing cold weather."