Snowballs on public property are against the law in Wausau--and several other cities

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- Tucked away in Wausau municipal ordinances, right between two laws regarding the use of firearms in the city, there's a line about snowballs. Specifically, you can't throw them while on city property--including sidewalks, streets, parks and schools.

Wausau City Hall, Nov. 27, 2019 (WSAW Photo)

"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.

As Wausau resident and fourth grader Caillen Blanchard put it, "that's a little strange".

The ordinance, in almost identical form, also appears in municipality ordinances for Weston, Schofield, Rib Mountain, Marshfield, Merrill and Antigo. It's a law that Wausau mayor Robert Mielke said was introduced in Wausau years ago to address some projectile issues of stuff being thrown at city property--among them, snowballs.

"It's really in the interest of public safety," Mielke noted. "A lot of it is just consideration and common sense. You don't throw stuff at people, period."

Another big part of it is to protect the city from litigation. Safety is part of it as well, as Wausau Ofc. Mason Hagenbucher notes--children could think they're throwing snowballs, when in reality it's turned to ice. Stone could be mixed in, and nobody wants that thrown at cars, buildings--or themselves.

But when it comes to a citation, neither Mielke nor Hagenbucher can remember a time that anybody has been cited for the offense. And if history is any indication, citations in the future look pretty unlikely.

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

For now, according to a quick check of municipality ordinances, there's no ordinance against snowballs in Kronenwetter, Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids or Rhinelander--yet.

In the meantime, a little advice from fourth grader Caillen could go a long ways.

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