Snowball Throwing Is Banned in This Wisconsin City: 'You Don't Throw Stuff at People, Period'

The recent cold snap has brought attention to a city in Wisconsin where it is illegal to throw snowballs in certain places.

Citizens in Wausau—which has a population of around 134,000—face a fine if they throw snowballs on public property, including sidewalks, city streets, parks and schools, WSAW reported.

"It's really in the interest of public safety. A lot of it is just consideration and common sense. You don't throw stuff at people, period," Wausau Mayor Robert Mielke said. "It's there for a reason."

In this way, snowballs are treated like rocks, arrows and other projectiles—which also cannot be thrown on public property.

"No person shall throw or shoot any object, arrow, stone, snowball or other missile or projectile, by hand or by any other means, at any other person or at, in or into any building, street, sidewalk, alley, highway, park, playground or other public place within the city," the ordinance reads.

However, the snowball ban does not apply to private property.

"What people do in their own private yards or private property is their own business," Mielke said.

The ordinance in question was introduced several years ago in response to some people who were causing problems by throwing projectiles at city property, according to Mielke.

One of the reasons behind the ordinance is safety, according to officials. Wausau Officer Mason Hagenbucher said that children may think they're only throwing snow, when in reality the snowball could contain hard ice or stones. Mielke said another reason for the ordinance is to protect the city from litigation.

snowball fight
Stock photo: Snowball throwing is banned in this Wisconsin city. iStock

However, both Mielke nor Hagenbucher say they can't recall a time when an individual was fined for throwing a snowball.

"We would address it appropriately, and in my head—I don't know if a citation would be appropriate," Hagenbucher said. "You never know."

Some residents of Wausau are somewhat perplexed by the ordinance. They include fourth-grader Caillen Blanchard, who described the law as "a little strange" upon learning about it.

"I think that snowball fights kind of cause friendship and a little bit of mayhem," Blanchard told WSAW.

Six other municipalities in Wisconsin also have nearly identical snowball bans.

Last year, a nine-year-old boy successfully convinced officials in his hometown of Severance, Colorado, to overturn a nearly century-old ban on snowball fights, The Associated Press reported.

"I think it's an outdated law," Dane Best said prior to a meeting with town leaders in December, 2018. "I want to be able to throw a snowball without getting in trouble."