By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER
Three neighborhood boys started building a shield for a snowball fight, but their enthusiasm took over and the structure became an igloo.
The prize accomplishment for the three on Christmas vacation is a small snow dwelling big enough for a couple of adults to stand up inside. It is fixed in place near the Long Barn Lodge skating rink.
Jason Cardoza, 9, Russell Helseth, 8, and Travis Varble, 13, all of Long Barn, made the most of the past week's storms and some free time to create the white, icy dome, which is four feet in diameter.
The boys said their parents will not let them sleep in the igloo overnight, but the three spend winter days with big sisters and neighborhood friends, climbing up the igloo's ice-packed walls, patching its holes and hiding out within.
"We were going to play Army in it," Cardoza said, about reasons behind building the snowy structure with bits of dirt and grass plastered in its walls.
The concept took hold on Dec. 20, when the boys were off school on a snow day.
"It was completely their idea," said Sandy Cardoza, Jason's mother, of Long Barn. "They're trying to make it look like an actual igloo."
Helseth's father, Larry, helped along the way, Sandy said.
"Some of the older kids wanted to come over and crash into it," Sandy said, so Larry stood guard and ensured the project reached completion.
A week later, the threesome worked on the igloo's entry tunnel during their breaks from snow battles with Lego action figures and visits from neighborhood girls.
All boys agreed that they spent more time repairing Lego figures than actually fighting with them.
Eventually, the boys said they hope to put a hole in the top of the dome and build a fire inside. They might even create some snow furniture.
"It's a little getaway," said Erica Marsh, 14, from San Ramon, a frequent igloo guest. Erica dropped by Friday afternoon with her sister, Tiffany Marsh, 12, also of San Ramon, and Caci Cardoza, 10, from Long Barn. The Marsh girls were in town visiting grandparents.