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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Big Storm Turns DC Into Snowy Playground

WASHINGTON (CN) - More than two feet of snow piled onto the capital over the weekend, closing schools and businesses, and sparking community snowball fights. "Damn, that was a good shot," said a startled woman, whose red umbrella had absorbed the impact of a large snowball.

Anything that caught the eye was a target for the roughly 2,000 strong mob that descended on Dupont Circle Saturday to hold an internet-organized snowball fight.

News reporters and cameramen covering the scene drew relentless fire, as did innocent cars and bikers trying to pass through the clogged roundabout.

A woman reporter who seemed to decide she had had enough, trudged over to a group to tell it to stop, snowballs flying across her path. But the olive branch had little effect, and another was lobbed from a different direction, exploding on her head.

The mass had separated itself into two rings. The small, inner circle consisted of a brave but hopeless band that faced off against the larger outer-ring, which sent volleys into the center.

Parts of the outer circle managed to organize themselves. To the right, throwing had seized and a voice could be heard counting down. When the leader got to zero, a wave of snowballs appeared and the inner circle raised its trashcan lids and umbrellas. As the snow crashed down, an American flag could be seen waving in the mosh pit.

One target held a Brazilian flag while skirting the inner circle in a short dash, but he quickly dove back into the semi-protection of his beleaguered, inner-circle peers.

Deciding at last that he had had enough, one member of the mosh pit chose to cross the distance to the outer ring by crawling through the snow on his elbows and knees. Apart from a few shots from the unsympathetic, the man managed to cross the no-go zone by what under the circumstances could be called successful.

The outside circle faced the opposite problem- not enough snow. Despite the record-breaking storm, the ground had been scooped to a hard, icy layer and aggressors had to kick out chunks and disassemble old snowmen to manufacture their ammo.

Bored with battling just the inner group and some of its own members, the outer ring aimed at passing cars and bikers. One pickup truck - with its windshield wipers fiercely brushing away snowball remains - stopped to let out two laughing passengers, who climbed into the bed to throw back at the crowd. Their images were quickly blurred by a wall of arcing snow.

Another passing car taunted the mob by quickly opening and closing its windows by a few inches. And one naïve driver had to be told to close her window, and she obliged seconds before a snowball left its icy mark on the glass.

Bikers had fewer options, with only some attempting to peddle faster through the deep, bumpy snow. While many were hesitant to throw at the helpless and the innocent, the crowd held enough trigger-happy members so that each biker emerged from the roundabout encrusted in ice.

Apart from sparking community roughhousing, the heavy snow also toppled trees, cut power to more than 200,000 homes and businesses, and blocked cars, turning roads into broad, crowded sidewalks. Rivers of residents were seen carrying shopping bags, strolling, skiing, or taking pictures of the crushed cars and mesmerizing, snow-covered tree branches.

Despite its costly damage, the storm had succeeded in turning residents of the busy and affluent district out of their apartments, offices and cars, and onto the playground.

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