(Part III: Odd Laws in Colorado)
In 2018, a 9-year-old boy named Dane Best made international headlines for convincing the town council in his hometown of Severance, Colorado, to overturn a century-old law that said throwing snowballs was illegal.
“Snowballs” fell under the town’s definition of “missiles,” and an ordinance banned the throwing of “missiles” at another “person, animal, building,” or even a “tree.” § 10-5-80. So, although the ban was never enforced and Best was never ticketed for committing a crime, the law still made it illegal for Dane and his friends in Severance to have a snowball fight.
Best argued to the board that having snowball fights gives kids a good reason to play outside in the winter. The town council agreed, and removed the word “snowball” from its prohibitions against throwing things.
However, Severance isn’t the only town in Colorado with ordinances against snowballs.
In the town of Aspen, for instance, it’s still against the law to throw snowballs “at any vehicle, building,” or “any person”. § 15.04.210. That same law also bans the “discharge” of “any bow, blowgun, slingshot,” or “catapult” in any public place.
In Boulder, “no person shall cast, throw, or propel” “balls, boomerangs, bottles, darts, Frisbees,” “model airplanes, rocks,” or “snowballs.” § 5-6-9(a).
However, there is a specific exception for a “juggler,” who is allowed to toss around snowballs, but no knives or anything on fire. § 5-6-9(b).
And, while it’s not against the law to have a snowball fight in a cemetery in Boulder, it is illegal to start a food fight there. § 8-7-5(a).
In the town of Fort Collins, it’s only illegal to throw snowballs “upon or at any vehicle,” Chap. 17 Art. VI § 17-102, while in Windsor, it’s against the law to throw snowballs at “any vehicle, building, tree or other public or private property, or upon or at any person in any public way or upon other public ground.” § 10-4-80.
While snowball fights are permitted in the town of Snowmass, it’s still illegal to “throw” or “eject” a snowball “in any manner which may cause physical harm or property damage.” § 10-42.
Similarly, in Louisville, it’s not just “throwing” snowballs in a manner that has “substantial risk of causing injury or damage” that’s banned, but also “slinging, dropping, shooting or launching” them. Chap. 9.36 § 010.
In Hudson, New Castle, and Rifle, you can only throw snowballs at “any person, animal, motor vehicle,” “building, structure,” or “tree” if it belongs to you. Hudson, Art. 4 Chap. 10 § 54; New Castle, Cap. 9.24 § 110; Rifle, Art. III § 10-3-110.
It’s not only against the law to throw a snowball in public in the towns of Keenesburg, Leadville, Loveland, Nederland, Oak Creek, and Pierce, but it’s also a crime to do so “on enclosed or unenclosed ground.” Keenesburg, Chap. 10 Art. 4 § 100; Leadville, Chap. 9.44 § 030; Loveland, Art. V Chap. 9.44 § 030; Nederland, Art. IX § 10-165; Oak Creek, Chap. 9.52 § 060; Pierce, Chap. 10 Art. 5 § 120.
Throwing snowballs is a crime in Glenwood Springs if the person threw them with the intent to injure someone, or to “deface or soil any personal property.” Art. 120.020 § 060.
And in Idaho Springs, it’s only legal to throw a snowball if it’s “for recreational purposes in such a manner that no unreasonable risk of harm was presented” to anyone, or if it was thrown in self-defense or defense of others. Art. 5 § 17-82.
So, while it’s now game-on in Severance, snowball fights are still illegal in other parts of Colorado.