With winter comes building snowmen, sledding, and snowball fights. However, there’ve been certain circumstances in which people have gotten in trouble with the law for throwing a snowball. Before you start making teams and building snowballs in the colder months of the year, you’d better learn the laws.
Snowball fights are legal in most places, but Wausau, Wisconsin, Severance, Colorado, and a few other cities. States don’t band snowball fights, but counties and cities have different regulations. Remember that throwing a snowball at a non-participant in any place is against the law.
Throughout this article, you’ll learn the following info about the legality of snowball fights:
- Where snowball fights are against the law
- How you can stay informed of local laws surrounding snowball fights
- Different reasons that they’re illegal in various cities around the world
Where Are Snowball Fights Illegal?
Snowball fights are supposed to be all about having fun with friends and family, but did you know that they can get you into serious trouble with the local law enforcement? You’ll need to make sure that you’re within the legal parameters before you start setting it up. Furthermore, make sure there aren’t any passersby that might get in the crossfire.
Fortunately, you’re in the right place to learn all about where snowball fights are and aren’t legal.
Here’s a list of places and situations in which you can’t participate:
- Wausau, Wisconsin banned snowball fights a long time ago. A few decades ago, the city council voted to ban snowball fights in the city. They coupled snowballs with arrows, stones, and other projectiles, making it impossible for people to have a snowball fight in the snowy town. However, recent votes have adjusted the legality for private land.
- Severance, Colorado, also banned snowball fights for a plethora of reasons. The law states that nobody can throw or shoot snowballs (among other objects) at other people, property, vehicles, and so on. Effectively, it banned snowball fights without directly saying it. Again, the small town has changed the verbiage in favor of private snowball fights.
- Snowball fights are legal in most other places, but it’s illegal to throw a snowball (or anything else, for that matter) at a stranger or someone who’s not participating. If you don’t want to get in trouble with the law, stick to playing with the people who’ve agreed to be a part of the session.
- You can’t have a snowball fight on public land in many cities that have shopping outlets and malls with a lot of people. Although snowball fights are usually innocent, it’s possible that you could hurt somebody walking by. Not only that, but they can cause property damage, costing you quite a bit in reparations.
As you can see, most places are fine with you having a snowball fight. The most important thing is that you need to make sure there aren’t people in the middle of it. Property and people can both make it a bit iffy.
Here’s a quick news story covering what it looks like where it’s illegal: (note: a video further down explains things from the city officials point of view)
How Can You Know the Laws?
If you’re worried about breaking the law to enjoy a snowball fight, chances are you don’t have to concern yourself. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially if you’re visiting a place and you don’t know anything about the town, county, or state.
The good news is that there are several ways that you can stay informed. Try the following methods to prevent yourself from breaking the law for a snowball fight:
Check the Local and Online News Sources
One of the quickest ways to know whether or not it’s illegal to have a snowball fight is to grab a newspaper or look for online sources. Many towns, even the small ones, have sources that will mention whether or not certain activities are illegal. All you have to do is type in the city name followed by ‘snowball fight.’
Call Law Enforcement (Not Emergency Lines)
If you want to call the city, then that’s your best bet to know right away. That being said, never call emergency lines or you’ll end up getting yourself in trouble. Snowball fights are far from emergencies, so don’t call for help if you don’t need it! As mentioned by the NY Times, throwing anything to cause harm is against the law.
Research the Town’s Ordinances
Most towns have their laws online these days, but you can check local ordinances at the city hall. Look through all of them or at least the portion regarding throwing projectiles and anything to do with vandalism. Since snowballs can cause damage if they have rocks in them, vandalism is often an issue.
Remember the new story earlier about Wausau banning snowball fights? Here’s a video showing city officials setting things straight:
Why Are Snowball Fights Illegal in Some Places?
You’re probably wondering why a few places have banned or limited snowball fights. After all, there’s usually no intent to cause harm. That being said, these laws are in place for a variety of good reasons.
Here’s why snowball fights are illegal in multiple cities:
- As mentioned above, snowball fights can cause vandalism. Whether the ice is too compact or there’s a rock inside, snowballs can shatter windows, dent vehicles, and cause all sorts of other problems. Even if it’s not illegal to have a snowball fight in your town, vandalism is always illegal.
- Wausau originally banned throwing snowballs as a part of a group effort to prevent injuries. The law included stones, arrows, and other harmful projectiles, so it seemed like a good idea to add snowballs. However, as time went on, it was unnecessary to prevent snowball fights, which is why their laws have been amended.
- Severance, Colorado, banned it for the same reason as Wausau: To prevent harm and vandalism. Much like Wausau, the laws in Severance were made many decades ago by coupling snowballs with other dangerous projectiles. Since the law was challenged by a young boy, News 9 states that it has since been altered.
- Another reason that snowball fights are illegal or frowned upon in some places is that they have the potential to harm those involved. Rocks, sticks, and anything sharp found in a snowball can cause severe injuries. If you happen to injure someone with an accidentally dangerous snowball, you could face legal trouble.
- Last but not least, snowballs can be seen as a threat or a nuisance. If people don’t want to be involved, they shouldn’t have to feel unsafe. When you’re out on public land, snowball fights shouldn’t get in the way of daily activities, such as shopping centers, office buildings, and so on.
Snowball fights typically aren’t illegal but throwing anything at someone can be an act of assault. To avoid legal problems and conflicts, make sure that you’re in a space that won’t send snowballs flying in the wrong direction. Furthermore, be prepared to prevent vandalism so no more anti-snowball fight laws are created!
Snowball fights generally aren’t regarded as dangerous or illegal, but they can be in some cities. While the chances of getting arrested or fined for a snowball fight are drastically low, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t stay current with local laws and regulations to keep yourself safe.
Towns like Wausau and Severance are beginning to loosen their restrictions against snowball fights, but that doesn’t mean that all towns are open for it!
Here’s a quick rundown of the post:
- Wausau and Severance both adjusted their snowball throwing laws.
- Make sure that you don’t cause harm or vandalism with snowballs in any town.
- You can search for local ordinances referring to the use of snowballs online or in newspapers.