A 25-year long hobby has turned an Eckville yard into a colourful snow park.
The backyard snow park built by Dolan Baxter boasts four snow saucer slides, a snow bowl, a skating rink and a zip line.
Baxter said he started constructing snow parks as a kid when he and his friends would build big hills at his grandparents’ farm to learn how to snowboard.
“When I was a kid the lady from the newspaper used to always come over and take pictures and everything, it was huge,” said Baxter.
He says he continued to build parks over the years and he has been building one in the yard pretty much every year since the move to his current home about 10 years ago.
“Every year we change it up a bit, sometimes there’s tunnels and stuff,” explained Baxter.
Around Dec. 20 Baxter started to construct the snow park by hand with shovels, snow he has hauled over with his truck and toboggans.
After the plow cleans the streets he will go out and cut it into blocks before loading it into the back of his truck.
The yard sees change over the course of the winter as snow continues to fall. With each snowfall the park needs to be cleaned back down to bare ice resulting in change as the new snow is utilized around the park.
Change also comes whenever he gets bored and hauls more snow over with the truck, said Baxter.
“I’m just a big kid,” laughed Baxter in response to his long-time hobby.
The park is designed in a way where multiple kids can go down different runs at the same time and not collide with one kid going up the wall of the snow bowl while another goes across.
Baxter added his nine-year-old daughter Evol is the test pilot to see if the features in the park work properly.
In the past the park has seen a snowboarding aspect, but was replaced with a rink this year so Evol could learn how to skate.
Both his daughters learned how to snowboard on the ramps in the backyard, just like he and his friends did years ago.
New this year is the zip line that runs across the width of the park and the Christmas lights built into the walls.
“You should see how many people drive by here in the middle of the night,” said Baxter. “We get lots of random people that just stop in the yard too and take pictures like ‘what is going on in here?’”
The park is a big hit for the kids, especially at the yearly birthday party held for his daughter in February.
Helmets are mandatory for all kids playing in the yard and most parents have to sign a waiver.
“It’s not different than any ski resort… I don’t want to see anybody getting hurt,” added Baxter. “Luckily we’ve never had anybody hurt.”
Once a year the adults also get to have their share of fun when he hosts a party called “Slush and Bleed.”
“When you get out here and you’re trying to do it you get butterflies,” said Baxter, “it’s super fun.”
Each year he spends endless hours out in the yard working on the park even in the -40 C weather because, he says, everything sticks together better in the cooler temperatures.
“It’s fairly unique like I’ve looked everywhere and I’ve never really seen someone else who has this level of craziness going on,” said Baxter. “I’ve YouTube’d and searched everywhere and I haven’t seen it.”