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A snowball fight is a physical game in which balls of snow are thrown with the intention of hitting somebody else. The game is similar to dodgeball in its major factors, though typically less organized. This activity is primarily played during months when there is sufficient snowfall.
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Today, the activity is notable for its prominence in the western world. Modern snowball fights tend to have very loose official regulation or constant properties, and so can only loosely be referred to as games. However, a common snowball fight played for fun will often have these characteristics:
- There is crude formation of "teams", usually two groups of opponents throwing at each other.
- Those in a fight often do not behave malevolently; a target is usually not viciously assaulted by snowballs.
- There is minimal physical contact, aside from perhaps wrestling.
- In contrast to other forms of fighting, there is usually no intention of bodily harm.
- Construction and use of snow forts is usually permitted.
Largest snowball fights
On January 12, 2013, 5,834 people officially took part in Seattle, Washington set the Guinness World Records record for the world's largest snowball fight, during Seattle's Snow Day. Seattle's world record was broken on January 31, 2016 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada, where more than 8200 people took part to set the new world record for the worlds largest snowball fight.
However, historical studies of snowball fights point to Leuven, Belgium as the actual snowball capital of the world. A recent snowball fight there (on October 14, 2009) broke the world record for the largest snowball fight ever recorded in history. Students from the University of Pennsylvania helped create and fund this fight which reached 5,768 participants, the largest yet recorded.
On February 6, 2010, some 2,000 people met at Dupont Circle in Washington D.C.. for a snowball fight organized over the internet after over two feet of snow fell in the region during the North American blizzards of 2010. The event was promoted via Facebook and Twitter. At least a half-dozen D.C. and U.S. Park police cars were positioned around Dupont Circle throughout the snowball fight. Minor injuries were reported.
On December 9, 2009, an estimated crowd of over 4,000 students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison participated in a snowball fight on Bascom Hill. There were reports of several injuries, mainly broken noses, and a few incidences of vandalism, mainly stolen lunch trays from Memorial Union. The snowball fight was scheduled weeks in advance, and was helped by the fact that the University canceled all classes due to 12-16 inches of snow that fell the night before. However, this snowball fight failed to break the record set in October of the same year in Leuven.
During the American Civil War, on January 29, 1863, the largest military snow exchange occurred in the Rappahannock Valley in Northern Virginia. What began as a few hundred men from Texas plotting a friendly fight against their Arkansas camp mates soon escalated into a brawl that involved 9,000 soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia.
In his memoir of the American Civil War, Samuel H. Sprott describes a snowball battle that occurred early in 1864 involving the Army of Tennessee. Sprott states that the fight started when Strahl’s Brigade was attacked by a brigade of Breckenridge’s Division, but soon other brigades became involved, and ultimately five or six thousand men were engaged.
- "Seattle stages 'biggest' snowball fight". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- "Seattle breaks record for world's biggest snowball fight". KOMO News. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- "World Records". Guinness World Records. 2010-01-22. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
- Gardner, Amy (2010-02-07). "2,000 join in snowball fight at Dupont Circle in D.C.". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
- "World Records". CNN. 2009-12-09.
- "An Illustrated History of the Fourth Texas Infantry". Retrieved 2009-10-22.
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