Snowball ban in Houghton

John Lodder

Karisa Steffans, Tech Editor

With winter carnival approaching, everyone seems to be taking a bit of a break from focus on school work and research. So, rather than our usual Tech Section pieces focused on what developments we have going on at Tech, we’re going to discuss something a little bit different and more involved with the theme of this week – the snowball ban.

Many students might have heard of the existence of this ban, though if you are from out of the area, you might not even be aware that this exists. Within the city of Houghton, there is an ordinance that prohibits people from throwing or propelling “…any snowball, missile or object towards any person, moving vehicle or building.” In other words, it is illegal to throw a snowball or start a snowball fight in Houghton, MI.

Now, this seems to be an odd ban, considering how much opportunity there is to have fun in the snow here in Houghton. People celebrate building snow sculptures, skiing, hockey, and pretty much any other winter activity you can think of in the snow. Yet, this ban prevents snowball fights entirely. True, there are those that do not enjoy such activities. However, this simply seems to be a bit of an extreme choice to ban it entirely. Snowball fights are an activity meant for fun, which many people of all ages enjoy. I know I have memories of snowball fights with my family, even as a person who wasn’t particularly fond of starting such things. Even when I was around others that did not like snowball fights, they would typically stop after a single objection to participating. As a result, it isn’t often that people are forced into such an event. Snowball fights are easy to opt out of, and are a way of having fun in the snow that just seems fitting for a city like Houghton, where the snow never stops coming. Yet, this ban still exists, preventing this from happening.

To think about this from another perspective, there could possibly be a reason behind this ban. With how cold it remains here, the snow does get fairly frozen, to the point of likely mixing with pieces of ice. As a result, snowballs that are made could be more dangerous than in other locations, if they contain something more solid. While still not incredibly dangerous, it is possible for someone to get hurt as a result if the snowball is directed towards them. Throwing one at a moving vehicle also poses the risk of potentially hitting their windshield and impeding their vision while driving. For the last piece of the ordinance, throwing it at a building also poses a potential risk as well. Someone walking out of the building might get hit, and again, if there is ice caught within the snow, it is possible to damage windows or the building with such an object.  As a result, there are some reasons for the existence of such a ban, despite the oddity of it being made.

To enforce this ban, there is also a fine involved for anyone seen throwing a snowball. For the first offense, there is a fifty dollar fine. That fine increases to one hundred dollars if you violate again. Considering the offense, this seems to be a reasonable method for enforcing the ordinance. Throwing snowballs isn’t typically dangerous, yet there does need to be some form of preventing a violation of the city’s ordinances. This is a way for the city to ensure that the snowball fights are prevented, without punishing people too severely for what seems to be a more minor infraction.

Overall, this is an interesting topic to consider. What side do you fall on? Do you think the snowball ban is justified? Either way, I hope you enjoyed this little break from the usual Tech Section, and that you all have fun during Winter Carnival this year. Have some fun in the snow, but make sure you don’t start any snowball fights!