Dangerous games

Students respond to local ordinances against snowballs

This Bulldog should think twice before throwing a snowball. Although some view it as good fun, it is illegal to do so in Big Rapids. Photo by: Kaitlyn Kirchner | Torch Photographer

According to Big Rapids’ Code of Ordinances, throwing a snowball within the city limits could cause students and residents some trouble.

Article § 92.03 of the Big Rapids’ Code of Ordinances states that “no baseball, football or softball throwing, or other violent or rough exercises or play shall be engaged in, in any public park or other public place…”

Ferris plastics engineering senior Isaac Lampe spoke about his experience in November 2018 with this local law.

“We were walking back from Shooters around 2 a.m., going back to my house a couple of blocks away,” Lampe said. “My other friend and I thought it fun to throw a snowball at him, which turned into a big snowball fight in this yard.

“All of a sudden, this spotlight comes on us, and we turned around. This cop gets out of his car and tells us to stop what we’re doing,” Lampe said. “He asked a bunch of questions like, ‘Why were you in someone’s yard?’ and then the last question was like, ‘Do you guys know what you’re doing?’ We said, ‘Throwing snowballs.’

“After that, he’s like, ‘Well, I could arrest all three of you for throwing snowballs,’” Lampe said. “We all really couldn’t believe he had said that and we kind of laughed a little.”

Additionally, § 94.21 of the Big Rapids’ Code of Ordinances states, ‘no person shall drop, throw, deposit, or scatter any earth, ashes, shavings, sawdust, hay, dirt, manure, rubbish, garbage, filth or any other loose material or articles in any street, alley, or public place…’ This can include snowballs.

Violators of this local law can face a $500 fine or up to 90 days in jail, although the consequences of throwing a snowball match the severity of the offense.

“One of my friends asked why this was even a law, and he just said that it could be a safety hazard, but really he was just trying to get us for underage drinking or something like that,” Lampe said.

Big Rapids is not the only town in the United States with an ordinance against throwing things in public, however. According to an article published by CBS 17 in December 2018, the city of Rio Rancho, New Mexico has a much more specific ordinance against throwing snowballs. The states “the City of Rio Rancho has a projection of missiles ordinance, which covers the throwing, slinging, catapulting of any snowball, rock, arrow, bb…”

The town of Severance, Colorado made national headlines in December 2018 after a 9-year-old boy appealed a ban on snowball fights in the town. According to an article published by CBS News in December 2018, “the rule was part of a larger ordinance that made it illegal to throw or shoot stones or missiles at people, animals, buildings, trees, any other public or private property or vehicles.”

“I guess I don’t care about it,” Ferris dental hygiene freshman Tiffany Duba said, “but that’s kind of childish to have it be an actual rule if kids are going to get in trouble.”