This morning we stopped in at Mike Carmichael’s place in Alexandria, IN. If you didn’t know better, you would think this was just another old farmhouse, another little piece of heaven in the wondrous amber waves of Indiana grain.
But this place is more than that. This place, tucked away down N 200 W, is home to one of the absolute coolest roadside attractions. I know I tend to be a bit over the top in these posts, but this is one of those attractions that not only didn’t disappoint, but GREATLY exceeded our already high expectations!
See, Mike’s little homestead houses the certified, and highly publicized, Guinness World Record Ball of Paint. This not-so-tiny planetoid (12 feet, 8 inches in circumference and weighing in at over 3500 lbs) has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Bob and Tom Show, as well as many books and even international documentaries.
But the best part about the attraction isn’t the “viewing pavilion” where the ball hangs, it’s not the photos and memorabilia thoughtfully arranged around the ball, in fact, it’s not even the ball itself.
No, the best part of this attraction is Mike Carmichael and his insistence that you be a part of this crazy ride with him. He doesn’t want to be famous, he even seemed a little shy (though proud) of all the interest and publicity he’s gotten.
Mike wants to share all the stories, show you the photographs he’s collected and let you know that – like the celebrities, the many reporters, foreign tourists and dignitaries – you are a part of his life, his memories and a part of something personal and special and the ball, which you must force yourself to ignore, is only what brings you there.
He beamed when he told us about the recent group of “Santas” who stopped by, painted the ball and made him an honorary Kris Kringle. His eyes brightened when he shared with us the recent unannounced visit by the Country/Gospel superstars The Oak Ridge Boys who sang as they painted the ball.
He told us that a few years ago, a young man came in early to write a marriage proposal on the back of the ball to his girlfriend, who was to arrive a few moments later with her friends. The tension mounted as she got closer and closer to the message, until finally she read his proposal and he swept in from his hiding place in the restroom with a ring. The couple now visits every year.
As enormous as the ball is (and it’s pretty big), these stories make the ball seem bigger, like painting a layer gets you into an exclusive club, a club made up of every possible character, a club, in which Victoria and I officially have membership. (By the way, this club technically makes you part of a certified Guinness World Record.)
We are proud to say we painted layer number 22,749, and more importantly, that we had a chance to hear these stories and meet Mike Carmichael. Below is our video of us painting. Enjoy.
For more information about the World’s Largest Ball of Paint, or to plan your trip, visit the official site here.