In a “Seattle Snow Day” event benefiting the Boys & Girls Club, Seattle Center has transformed into… well, I would like to call it a winter wonderland, but let’s get real here, it’s just a thin patch of snow slowly turning to ice. I still admire the effort to truck all that from the mountains, and Seattle treats us with a bright, crisp day that at least prevents it from turning to slush.
When we arrive, the snow fort contest is underway. Sponsored teams build up walls and carve out crenelations. One girl sculpts the finishing touches on a snow penis atop the battlements, which unsurprisingly flies a fraternity flag. While some teams artfully spritz colored water on their walls, a less prepared group paints #YOLO in coffee. Feeling left out of the construction, we set about creating a snowman, which turns into this weird tower thing that collapses as soon as a photographer comes over to record it.
We mill about as Center Square slowly fills up, everyone’s wrist bands duly scanned to count toward the record attempt. Most participants don typical snow gear, but there are enough spandex Spidermen, women in tutus, and yellow shield bearers that my koala hat doesn’t stand out as much of a target. Snowballs are already flying, with a few brave souls darting across the no man’s land between forts.
We pick up a thrown snowball to find that it contains a shard of ice. A shiver of nerves run down my spine. These things can really pack a punch, and it’s not uncommon for an iceball to bounce off you instead of exploding into powder. We seek strategic ground, off in the corner by the DJ’s booth where we don’t have to worry about any missiles from behind.
Finally, after the sun sets and most everyone’s extremities have gone numb, the Guinness representative takes the stage to recite the rules. We all have to throw snowballs for one minute. Officials in the crowd will be deducting points for anyone not throwing and headshots. I check that my goggles are on snug (“eye lacerations are the number one injury in snowball fights!”) and heft a snowball in each hand as the countdown begins.
3…2…1… with a roar, the air fills with snowballs. I keep a steady pace of lob, chip at snow with boot, pack snow, repeat and soon the minute is over. I come through remarkably unscathed, though we see one guy get nailed in the face and retreat behind us nursing a bloody nose.
We wait again as deductions are calculated. The representative draws out the announcement in his clipped British accent. With almost 6,000 people in attendance, our final total is 5,834 (including 2 deductions for snowballs thrown at the announcer), beating Korea’s record of 5,387. We did it! A Guinness World Record certificate appears alongside someone waving the American flag to chants of “USA!”
Snowballs continue to arc through the sky. The moment is spoiled as someone next to me shouts “Medic! EMT! EMT!” and I turn to see a woman lying prone on the ground (presumably knocked out by a blow to the head), her friends trying to revive her.
Just as we are about to head for the exit, one last snowball raises an insta-welt on my thigh, which has since turned into a colorful souvenir. I shrug it off as we head out for Thai food and later join the pub crawl, celebrating the new world record with special Yellow Snowball shots.