REXBURG — Capt. Randy Lewis of the Rexburg Police Department would like residents to know that the throwing of snowballs isn’t illegal, it just requires a little restraint.
He cited city ordinance No. 639, which he says many people mistakenly refer to as the “snowball” ordinance.
Section 2A of ordinance 639 reads, “It shall be unlawful for any person within the city limits of Rexburg, Idaho, to willfully or carelessly throw any stone, stick, snowball, egg, bomb, missile, or other substance whereby any person is hit or any window broken or any property injured or destroyed.”
Lewis said this ordinance is about far more than throwing snowballs and includes any activity where projectiles could cause harm.
“The main intent of that ordinance is to help stop people being injured — property being damaged,” he said.
As an example, Lewis told the Standard Journal about an incident involving damage done by water balloons.
“They had an organized event, BYU-I, at Porter Park with water balloons. They created such a mess down there. They destroyed stuff, they hit a little kid, he about lost his eye,” Lewis said.
As far as snowball fights, he said friends playfully throwing at each other in small groups isn’t enough to merit a citation, but those throwing snow at each other should still be aware of their surroundings and careful not to hit anyone else.
“If they’ve got a friendly little thing up at the college or down at Smith Park, and somebody innocent gets injured, somebody’s going to pay the consequences on that,” he said.
He said depending on the severity of the incident, the police will not hesitate to charge individuals who hurt others or damage property with battery, or malicious injury to property.
He also said that police officers are not out looking for those throwing snow to punish them, but if a complaint is received the police will respond.
He said people should also be aware that snowball fights are not allowed in the public parks because of the potential injury they could cause to other people.
“If they’re having a snowball fight in Porter Park, absolutely not. That’s not allowed because that’s a public park. People are going to be in there trying to enjoy it,” he said.
Lewis said that the overall goal of enforcing these ordinances isn’t to take the fun out of winter, but to keep people safe.
He said he wishes such ordinances weren’t necessary.
“It’s sad that we have to have laws, ordinances for people’s behavior,” he said.