Merion Green Snowball fight is a time- frozen tradition revived
By biconews On 1 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives, Features | With 0 Comments

By Leeza Friedman

When President Vickers mailed out Christmas cards with a photograph of “The Great Merion Snowball Fight of 1920,” she probably never expected that it would inspire students to reenact it. She probably never expected that her card had the potential to begin a new tradition, either, but that is exactly what happened at 4:00 p.m. on the Merion Green last Tuesday. The rest is history.

While conversing over the phone last Sunday, Rachel Wener (BMC ’02) and a friend from her college seminar class conceived a plan to reenact the 1920 incident.

Realizing that a storm had been predicted for later in the week, and having missed a chance to plan a snowball fight for the previous storm, the friends began to brainstorm. If a storm occurred later in the week, they would send an e-mail out to their friends to meet them on Merion Green. The magnitude of the storm, and the fact that classes were canceled, inspired them to go ahead with their plan. “Everything was cancelled,” Wener concluded. “I thought it would be the only time it would work.”

Wener sent out an e-mail to ten or fifteen friends residing in various dorms. The e-mail, which read simply, “4:00 p.m., Merion Green. Dressing like the people in the photo is not required,” quickly circulated in and beyond her social circle. She also hung up a couple signs in her dorm, Erdman, and in Guild Computing Center, her place of employment. Between the circulating email, the signs, and word of mouth, the 4:00 invitation soon spread all over campus.

Caroline Barth (BMC ’02) and Katie Queen (BMC ’02), customs people in Menon Hall, recalled receiving the e-mail at approximately 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday. They quickly forwarded it to all of their frosh, and fellow Merion customs people. Within a matter of minutes, customs people were writing “snowball fight” on their dry erase boards, and large portions of the dorm were preparing to go outside.

Wener’s successful publicity resulted in a much larger turn-out than she had anticipated. While she had expected “a few friends” to show, she did not expect fifty to seventy-five people that did appear, including most of (if not all) of Bryn Mawr’s rugby team. The large numbers, and the concurrent rugby game, quickly turned the structure of the snowball fight into a free-for-all.

Queen recalls, “At one time, it looked like there was a lot of order … One side throwing at the other side. That quickly disintegrated. There were a lot of people throwing at … their own side.” Although Wener attempted to restore the two-team order, those that favored anarchy outnumbered her. As Barth recalled, “It was more like, throw a snowball at your friend, and then team up with your friends and throw them at other people that you know. And then at people that you don’t know.”

After the initial few minutes of pandemonium, the snowball fight began to subside. “The heat of it lasted about 15 minutes,” Queen said.

While some people continued to throw snowballs, many chose other activities, such as building snow sculptures. Reminders of a snow wolf and several snow castles of various statures currently dot Merion Green as a result.

In considering that the snowball fight could become a new tradition, Wener concluded. “I think it’s a great idea.” She also expressed that this year, “People have the cards, so it makes a lot of sense [for them to want to recall the 1920 fight].” Queen and Barth concurred that it would be a good tradition, but they were concerned as to whether there could be enough snow for it in the future.

Regardless of the future of the Merion Green snowball fight, whether it embodies a piece of history, or a potentially new tradition, it is certain to live in the collective memory of all Mawrters. “There were a lot of people out there and a lot of snow flying,” Queen and Barth joked together. Who knows? Perhaps the Great Merion Snowball Fight of 2000 will find its way onto another president’s greeting card 80 years from now. Time alone will tell.

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