First, the raw data: six young gentlemen, four young ladies, a case-plus of beer, two Sno Kone machines, one backyard, 160 pounds of ice.
It's a shame that snowball fights aren't more of a summertime tradition. Chucking handfuls of icy slush at acquaintances should be right up there with scratching mosquito bites, drinking at little league games and scarfing down melting ice cream sandwiches. Alas, it is precisely this imbalance in the universe that the Planet — assisted ably by a team of hardworking volunteers — aimed to correct by staging a snowball fight in the backyard of staff writer Mark Sanders' oh-so-pimped 42nd Street crib in Sarasota. Actually, we weren't "staging" anything. This shit was the real deal.
Ideally, we should've had a snow-maker. We could have carpeted the entire yard with a layer of the stuff and gone at it. Snow-makers aren't exactly common around here, though, in case you've ever tried to find one.
The Sno Kone machines did their job admirably. They function like sausage-makers. You feed bagfuls of ice into a metal tunnel atop the contraption, then slowly push the ice down the tube with a lever. A whirling blade breaks the chunks down into tiny ice pieces and spits them into an aquarium-like glass container, from which you can form the particles with your hands into projectiles of icy violence.
After that, snowball fights just seemed to break out. We organized ourselves into two teams, each taking opposing sides of the yard. Strategies varied: Dave Genualdi perfected a lobbing technique for surprise mortar assaults up and over a tree that shielded one team; Creighton McMurray preferred suicidal full-frontal assaults on his opponents' snow stash; Bob Sarabia relied on an ingenious helmet to shield him from facial bruising, making him well-nigh invulnerable.
Girlish screams were heard from males and females alike that beautiful sunny day. Crotches were targeted; ears were stuffed with ice. Battlefield bloodlust infected us all.
Who won? There's no real way to say, and it hardly mattered. We had enough ice for three solid rounds of five-on-five action, broken up by ceasefires that included rounds of beer.
As the sun got lower in the sky and the ice that remained melted slowly into the grass, we went our separate ways: some to an art opening, others to hit the showers. I'd like to think, though, that we all learned a little bit about ourselves in that snow-soaked field of battle. We did decide on one thing: The Planet hereby nominates snowball fights as a new tradition when the thermostat starts rising.
All Seasons Party Rental 1870 University Parkway, Sarasota, 355-6700.