Young couple playing in snow, having snowball fight

By Shereen Siewert

A story about Wausau’s anti-snowball ordinance is going viral nationwide, but City Attorney Anne Jacobson said the rule is nothing new.

“I searched the hard copy ordinance books I could find in our office and found it in its exact form today, at least as far back as 1962,” Jacobson told Wausau Pilot and Review. “But we could not definitely determine when it was first enacted.”

“No person shall throw or shoot any object, arrow, stone, snowball or other missile or projectile, by hand or by any other means, at any other person,” the municipal code in Wausau reads.

The ordinance, under the section for “weapons,” also says snowballs cannot be thrown “at, in or into any building, street, sidewalk, alley, highway, park, playground or other public place within the city.”

WCCO in Minnesota reported on the ordinance on Dec. 2, sparking a nationwide outcry with some news outlets calling Wausau the “worst city in America.”

In the WCCO story, Wausau Mayor Robert Mielke is quoted as saying the ordinance is “really in the interest of public safety.”

“A lot of it is just consideration and common sense. You don’t throw stuff at people, period,” Mielke is quoted as saying.

WCCO also reported Mielke as the person who introduced the ordinance in the first place. But that statement appears to be a misconception, since the rule was proposed before Mielke was even born.

As for the “weapons” categorization, Jacobson said the ordinance has always fallen under that chapter of ordinances.