Wisconsin city may end longtime ban on snowball fights

Wausau has voted to amend a 1962 ordinance that forbids the launching of projectiles – including snowballs – on city property

On Monday afternoon, last-minute shoppers shuffled the sidewalks around Wausau’s city center as the mercury topped 34F (1C) – a veritable heatwave for this time of year and, coincidentally, the perfect temperature for packing snowballs with volume and heft.

And inside the nearby city hall, a conversation has also been heating up – one that could shape the future of snowball fights in this central Wisconsin town.

Owing to a 1962 ordinance that forbids the launching of projectiles on city property, those participating in snowball fights have for decades risked a $114 fine, a law that earned Wausau the distinction of being dubbed the “worst town in America”.

But times may be changing. Last week, the city’s public safety committee voted to remove the word “snowball” from the local law but keep in place a language that forbids throwing projectiles, said city councilman Patrick Peckham, who was among those who voted to amend the ordinance.

The change would allow the police to cite scofflaws who heave snowballs or ice chunks with the intent to damage passing cars, but greenlight snowball fights between mutual combatants.

“So basically, if you throw a snowball at your buddy at bar time, you’re all right. But if you stand on the highway and chuck it at cars, then you’re in trouble,” Peckham said.

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