When I first saw the LivingSocial deal for Snow Day, it seemed almost too good to be true: The world’s largest snowball fight? In my backyard? How fast can I sign up?
Unfortunately, it was too good to be true.
It seemed like a great idea: Event organizers would bring in more than 30 dump trucks of snow from nearby mountain passes, stage a Guinness World Record-breaking snowball fight in Seattle Center, and donate the proceeds to the Boys and Girls Clubs of King County.
I waited for Snow Day with the kind of breathless anticipation usually reserved for school closure announcements. What’s not to love about snow? It lets us act like kids outside and cozy up with loved ones inside. And, with no snowfall in sight, I thought it might be the only snow I see all year. But the reality proved akin to a snow flurry that melts before the school bus arrives: Fun, but not as fun as it could have been.
Alexis and I showed up at 4:30, a half-hour before the snowball fight was supposed to begin. Groups had been building snow forts for hours, monopolizing much of the usable snow in the process. Our first inkling that something was amiss came when we walked through the battlefield and noticed that portions of the ground were no longer snow-covered. The remaining (usable) snow fell into one of two categories: It either had the consistency of flour and couldn’t be packed into a snowball, or it was a dangerous cluster of hardened ice. There was no in-between.
That presented the biggest problem. A good-sized snowball, iced over and rock hard, could legitimately cause a bloody nose or black eye. Event organizers warned against head shots, but with some 6,000 people launching snowballs in every direction, it seemed like a disaster waiting to happen.
Mindful of our health, we stayed on the fringes while waiting for the snowball fight to begin. With clear skies and time to kill, we gawked at the cross-section of humanity that turned out for the event. We noticed a 20-something dressed in a cow costume, complete with plastic udders. Another man wore a purple-and-black track suit, adorned with a sombrero. Some short-sighted young women froze in pink tutus.
I showed up in sneakers, a T-shirt, and a sweater jacket — hardly appropriate attire for the snow. (No gloves, either!) By the time the organizers started the countdown, I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes.
Leading up to the mayhem, I carried in one hand an egg-sized snowball, the largest projectile I could throw without hurting someone. In the other hand, I held a snowball the size of a small steak. I eventually ditched the larger of the two when a similar-sized snowball whizzed by my head and clanked off a metal guard rail without breaking.
The fight finally began at 5:45 p.m. By that point, Alexis and I were both freezing and worried about sustaining concussions from high-speed snowballs. We stayed near the exit as the snow started flying, contenting ourselves by lobbing a few snowballs at others on the outskirts.
Having done our part to set the record, we bolted for the exits after a minute or two. I briefly turned around to watch thousands of snowballs fill the sky, but my interest in getting warm outweighed my interest in strangers flinging ice and snow at each other.
Satisfied with our efforts, we headed for a warm bar, where football and beer awaited. It was a fitting reward for a pair of newly-minted Guinness World Record-holders.