16 feet of snow with a smile casts shadow on street

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (ABC/ WPRI)– His name is Beta-15, and while that sounds like a video game or a robot, there’s nothing high-tech or electronic about this temporary resident of Shepherd Avenue.

The 16-foot snowman, now leaning slightly to his right, is the creation of Rodrigo Betancur, a native of Colombia who never saw a single snowflake until he was 20 years old.

“Beta is the first letters in our name,” Betancur said. “And he was created this year. My wife thought of the name. We never named the snowmen before.”

As his children Ana and Marina dodge each others’ snowballs in the shadow of their big snow brother, you realize it would take a couple of Marinas standing on the shoulders of a few Anas to adjust Beta-15’s snow-covered top hat or loosen his scarf, which is actually made of three scarfs. Their dad started making giant snowmen about six years ago.

“I use plywood to make a form for the base,” he said. “I stuff it with snow.”

The forms are pentagons until Betancur rounds each of the five layers into shape.

“The key is to pack the snow really, really good, to the point that if I stand on top of it, it won’t sink an inch,” he explained, in case you want to try this at home.

Robert Bucci lives across the street in Beta-15’s house-sized shadow.

“I’ve seen him out there at 3 in the morning, stomping the snow,” Bucci said. “So, you have to love the dedication. And how can go wrong with the smiles and laughs we see from kids and adults.”

It took about five days of stomping, four plywood forms, two logs for arms, a couple of crazy eyes and one giant carrot to bring Beta-15 to life. Ana and Marina suggested the upside down coat hanger for the mouth.

2015’s snow was perfect for Beta-15 to rise. Bucci pointed out that the giant has actually created small traffic jams on usually quiet Shepherd Avenue, with fans coming from across the state and beyond. The Sisson family skated there from Seekonk.

“The kids really enjoyed it,” Maureen Sisson said, holding her grandson. “My baby was saying, snowman, snowman.”

Betancur admits this was the perfect winter to create his icy beast who wouldn’t be here without copious accumulations of snow and frigid temperatures that have kept him standing, although leaning a bit now.

“I need plenty of snow. It depends on how much snow we get. I got plenty to make like five of those,” Betancur says with a laugh, pointing up to the smiling giant.

How long he lasts is also obviously up to the weather, with Betancur saying rain is usually what takes down his creations. And alas, showers and 45 degree weather is predicted for the weekend. Don’t tell Beta-15 or Ana and Marina.

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