University of Wisconsin Police responded to calls on two consecutive nights as Madison’s winter wonderland was transformed into a massive snowball fight outside Sellery and Ogg Halls.
After approximately 200 UW students, comprised primarily of residents from Sellery and Ogg, slung snow across Dayton Street late Monday night, they battled again on Tuesday.
A Tuesday Facebook event advertising the second fight drew a much larger and less cooperative crowd than on Monday. Police tried multiple times to prevent the unresponsive combatants from crossing the street to attack each other with snowballs.
At around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night, a Big Ten Network semi-truck was directed to block the road, pushing back several participants and allowing police to disperse the crowd.
“It’s unsafe for everyone that’s around here for them to come out here on subsequent nights,” UWPD Sgt. Ruth Ewing said. “It is a waste of our time when trying to be productive to stop other things that are going on.”
It was unclear if any citations were distributed on Tuesday, but some house fellows from Ogg were threatening students with write-ups from University Housing.
According to UWPD Sgt. Jason Whitney, the Monday blizzard barrage caused complaints as well, resulting in the arrest of one UW student who received an underage drinking citation.
“One person ended up getting cited for underage drinking based on his aggressive behavior, and there were no injuries,” Whitney said. “He was engaged in the snowball fighting, but that was not the reason he received the citation.”
According to Whitney, having a snowball fight is legal in Wisconsin, but when snowballs are thrown at property or cars in the road, citations can be written. It was complaints of these illegal actions that triggered the police response.
“There was a point where a cab drove by and a bunch of people threw snowballs at it,” UW sophomore Konrad Krebs said. “The cabbie wasn’t pleased and got out to chase an individual into the Ogg yard.”
Krebs said it was incidents like these which resulted in Monday’s attempt by UWPD to block off Dayton Street to prevent more cars from being hit by the onslaught of snowballs.
Beside the complaints and single arrest, there was also some hostility between members of the two residence halls involved in both fights.
UW sophomore Bill Buecksler recalls patrons of Ogg chanting “norovirus,” in reference to the recent outbreak of the illness that likely started in Sellery.
Other than the complaints and the single arrest, Monday’s fight, which was “bigger than the Battle at Thermopylae,” according to Buecksler, did not get too out of hand for how big it was. However, Tuesday’s fight, which was bigger and more violent, causing more reason for concern.
Whitney said Tuesday afternoon if Monday night’s events happen again, UWPD would have to get University Housing and the Offices of the Dean of Students involved. Whitney was not in the office Tuesday night.
The organizer of the Facebook event, which had 601 confirmed guests, is attempting to sell shirts commemorating the battle.