Strange States: Indiana's Big Ball of Paint

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If you want to learn about someplace, you can always pick up a textbook. But if you want to get to know a place, you're going to have to dig a little deeper. And what you find there might be a little strange. The Strange States series will take you on a virtual tour of America to uncover the unusual people, places, things, and events that make this country such a unique place to call home.

This week we’re swinging through the Crossroads of America, the Hoosier State—Indiana.

World’s Biggest Ball of Paint

Michael Carmichael of Alexandria, Indiana has a regulation-sized baseball that’s about 10-feet around and weighs in the neighborhood of 1300 pounds. It’s so big he had to build a shed next to his house to hold it. Yep, just a standard baseball ... covered in over 20,000 coats of latex paint.

Carmichael first had the idea of painting a baseball when he was a kid back in the 1960s. He was playing catch with a friend when a throw went astray, knocked over an open paint can, and the ball got covered. Carmichael thought it looked pretty cool, so for two years he kept dipping the ball in paint until he had 1000 coats; by then the ball looked something like a melting football. He wound up donating that baseball to a local children’s museum, but the idea still fascinated him.

So on January 1, 1977, Carmichael had his three-year-old son apply the first of many, many coats of paint onto a baseball. Since then, at least one new layer of paint has been added every day, either by someone in the family or curious visitors who drop by the house and give the rollers a twirl. These contributions helped the ball become the World’s Largest Ball of Paint according to Guinness in 2004.

If you’d like to add a layer, feel free to stop by the family’s house. But you must abide by one rule: It can’t be painted the same color twice in a row.

Have the scoop on an unusual person, place or event in your state? Tell me about it on Twitter (@spacemonkeyx) and maybe I’ll include it in a future edition of Strange States!

Read all the entries in our Strange States series here.

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January 6, 2014 - 1:00pm
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