Lots and lots of snow to throw!
It was 1:45 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12 when I first heard the rumors. In my floor’s GroupMe, someone had sent a picture of a poem, written in the familiar style of Dr. Seuss, announcing a midnight snowball fight on the Green. Had the moment we’d all been waiting for finally come?
I first heard of the midnight snowball fight on the Green last term. Supposedly, it took place after the first major snowfall of the term, and an email from Dr. Seuss himself would be sent to all of campus announcing its arrival. However, during the first significant snowfall of fall term, no email was ever sent. Admittedly, it was in the middle of final exams, so my friends and I accepted that we would have to wait until winter term.
Once I returned to campus in January, snow had enveloped the formerly green campus. Despite having lived in the warm southern regions of the United States for my entire life, I quickly learned that not all snow is equal: some snow is soft and fluffy, lending itself well to the creation of snowballs, while other snow is hard, icy and definitely not snowball material. The snow already on the ground was, unfortunately, of the latter variety, so I would have to wait a bit more for the proper precipitation to arrive.
But one snowfall occurred, and then another, and soon the general student population seemed to have just accepted that the snowball fight was canceled this year — by whom, no one knew, because no one knew who was in charge of organizing it in the first place. I resumed normal life, doing my best to conceal my disappointment.
The morning of Thursday, Feb. 9 — the beginning of Winter Carnival — I looked outside my window to see a blanket of perfectly smooth snow surrounding my dorm. As if by cue, the weather had changed dramatically just in time for Winter Carnival. The frigid, snowy weekend was perfect for festivities such as the polar bear plunge and the ice sculpture competition … but no one expected the Carnival to extend into Sunday night. So when word got out that the snowball fight was finally, supposedly, happening, my friends and I were pumped.
A campus-wide email was finally sent at 5:09 p.m., although it was from the Ledyard Canoe Club instead of from Theodor Geisel himself. The snowball fight was officially happening. Conveniently, I was in a meeting with my editors for the Mirror when the email was sent out, so I eagerly accepted writing a narrative article about the fight itself.
Later that night, around 11:30 p.m., I decided to go around Baker-Berry Library and ask ’20s what they expected from the snowball fight. The atmosphere was hesitant and uncertain. Some students were unsure if many people would attend, and others didn’t believe that it was worth spending time on the Green instead of working on homework.
My own priorities were certain: At 11:55 p.m., I left my backpack in Baker lobby and made my way to the Green.
As I made my way there, the snow still falling in plentiful amounts from the sky, I was pleasantly surprised to see a large congregation of students dispersed across the Green. Before midnight had even arrived, the first snowballs had been thrown. The Green, usually a tranquil area during the winter, quickly became the location of utter pandemonium.
I very quickly realized that I had not dressed appropriately for the snowball fight at all. My pants were not water-resistant in the slightest, so they quickly became soaked with melted show. On the battlefield, however, mild discomfort is the furthest thing from one’s mind. I fought on.
The powdery snow created a unique set of hazards. The snow itself was almost too soft for making compact snowballs, so many students resorted to throwing small snow clouds instead. I also realized that the Green is not a perfectly smooth surface — I nearly tripped many times as the snow hid small pits in the ground. Of course, for the people who did trip and fall, the snow conveniently doubled as a cushion.
There were several noteworthy individuals who participated in the snowball fight. One student came dressed in a dinosaur onesie, and another brought their corgi into the fray. I saw a person dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, and someone else who wielded a shield to properly defend against the never-ending barrage of snowballs.
The fighting tactics of each student varied. Some preferred to stay in small groups, throwing snowballs across a small distance. Other students ran all across the Green to chase their friends — and to escape from their pursuers. Many friendships were threatened by acts of betrayal, when friends who agreed to a truce later opened fire on each other. Particularly rambunctious students even went so far as to tackle their targets to prevent their escape.
Personally, I experienced all of these forms of warfare, as both the perpetrator and victim.
The snowball fight continued for about an hour, although the Green became less dense as the night progressed and students realized that they had class the next day. Some of my friends and I remained until 1:11 a.m. on Monday morning, proud to be the last group on the Green.
By then, our sanity and any semblance of warmth had long since dissipated, but we were the self-proclaimed victors of the snowball fight. With that satisfaction, and the knowledge that my homework was far from completed, I slowly walked back to the library, one fewer Dartmouth rite of passage on my bucket list.