Students sling snow in massive Pentacrest fight


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That is how many UI students described the snowball fight on the Pentacrest on Wednesday evening. They lobbed snowballs into the night sky. Puffs of white went up from heads and jackets as the spheres found their target. Some balls of ice hit with a more solid thud.

“It was crazy,” said UI freshman Brian Berge, who had a solid, red line of blood trickling down from beneath his black glasses. “I was hit by someone on my own side, I think.”

Though the fight began with random groupings of people, it quickly evolved into two thick lines consisting of around 1,000 individuals, who emitted yelps and laughter and caused a constant rumble of noise.

“A friend of mine related it to musket fire,” said UI junior Darren Look. He was armed with a lunch tray for a shield.

The event, UI Snowball Fest ’09, fell on the first snow day at the UI since Feb. 6, 2008. According to the Facebook event page, more than 3,500 people said they would attend the snowy soirée.

A few attendees did not sign on to Facebook — rather, they happened to be walking by.

“There’s a kind of energy in the air,” said Chris Brewer, 50, who was walking by the Pentacrest after working on a paper.

Brewer, who had his video camera out and said he might post clips to YouTube, noted the event reminded him of snowball wars when he was a student at Iowa State University. Those fights were generally between dorm residents and fraternities, which lobbed snow across the street at each other. But those events were usually all male, he said. This one was definitely co-ed.

The UI police were among the viewers of the fight. One solitary police car was parked on the intersection of Iowa Avenue and Clinton Street, just to make sure the event didn’t get too wild.

“I see it as very friendly,” Berge said, blood still running down his cheek. Some people might be getting a little bit too into the spirit of the fight, he said. “It is a great way to end a snow day.”

During the day, Cambuses continued to slog through slushy streets, UI Hospitals and Clinics doctors and students with clinical duties braved the single-digit temperatures, and UI offices remained open. But classes were canceled.

“We heard celebrations from our neighbors,” said UI freshman Sarah Borland while sitting at T Spoons with snow blowing horizontally past the window. “We heard jumping, and a huge ‘Yes,’ and then screams.”

Many students said they used the extra time from canceled classes to cram for finals.

“It just gave me more time to study,” said UI senior Laura Hart, as she sat with her books and notes spread out on the table before her.

During the day, temperatures dipped to 4 degrees Fahrenheit, though that doesn’t quite reach the record low for Dec. 9, which is minus-17. Johnson and surrounding counties were under a blizzard warning for most of the day.

UI spokesman Tom Moore said he would not speculate about cancellations today, but a decision should be made at around 6 a.m.