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Faux snow, real fun

Impatient with the weather, dad makes snow machine

Impatient with the weather, dad makes snow machine

January 12, 2007|by PEPPER BALLARD

HAGERSTOWN - No one shoveled snow from their sidewalk, and no cars were buried beneath snow blankets.

Yet the backyard of 330 Radcliffe Ave. was covered with the white stuff Thursday.

Chris Chaney, the home's owner, made it that way.

"I just like snow. I got irritated that it wouldn't snow, so I made snow," the 26-year-old real estate agent, car salesman and family-proclaimed "MacGyver" said.

On Thursday morning, Chaney's 4-year-old son, Skyler, and 2-year-old niece, Chloe Whittington, rolled and romped down a snowy slope nestled between two grassy lawns. The children threw snow chunks and made snow angels. The family dog, a 2-year-old Labrador retriever, Benelli, bounded around them.

Chaney's nights after work the past two weeks were spent between Home Depot and Lowe's, where he bought piping and fixtures needed to make his very own snow machine.


The contraption is made from misting nozzles, a nucleation nozzle, a spray washer and an air compressor, he said.

With the temperature just right Wednesday night, Chaney was able to blow snow - about two inches an hour - over his backyard.

His wife, Michelle Chaney, who watched over the children Thursday, jokingly called her husband "The Weatherman."

"I said, 'You're playing with God, Chris,'" she said. "I never said, 'You can't do it,' because I knew he would."

He checked on the machine until about 1 a.m. Thursday, she said.

Chris Chaney said the idea began as a joke. A few days before Christmas, Kevin Engle, his manager at Fitzgerald Auto Mall in Frederick, Md., joked that it would be nice to get paid to create White Christmases for people without snow. Chaney envisioned himself spending Christmas Eve blowing snow over people's yards.

But conditions weren't perfect Dec. 24, and Chaney still had more work to do. He spent hours poring over Internet sites that offered free plans for snow machines.

"You can actually buy what's called a Backyard Blizzard, but it's like $3,000," he said.

Chaney said he spent about $250.

He credited Compressed Air Services Inc. for making him a fitting "that I really needed to make the whole thing work."

Skyler was able to watch about a half-inch of the snow fall Wednesday night, Chaney said. The snow was slush at first, but eventually it settled.

Roger Fairbourn, Chaney's adoptive father, said he needled him at first about the project.

"He's given me nightly updates on where he got this or where he got that," Fairbourn said. "He called me at about 11:30 (Wednesday) night and said he had it."

Fairbourn took Skyler and Chloe for rides on their sled Thursday, trying to navigate the tiny pair around an ice-slicked rope swing and a nearby picnic table. Benelli helped steer, grabbing with his teeth at the speeding sled's rope to pull it. When those attempts failed, he resumed frolicking.

The family's Radcliffe Avenue neighbor, William Renner, 76, acknowledged Chaney's hard work.

"He's been trying to do that for a month," Renner said. "The good Lord can't give us none, so he did."

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