Thanks to the efforts of nine-year-old Dane Best, it is no longer illegal to throw snowballs in Severance, Colorado. Taking his case before the town board, the young hero successfully lobbied to have the nearly century-old law overturned.
Severance’s snowball ban has been in place since the town’s incorporation in 1920. Kyle Rietkirk, assistant to the town administrator, told the Greeley Tribune that “officials have been trying get an elementary schooler interested in repealing part of the ordinance’s language for about four years.”
In fact, based on reporting by the Greeley Tribune:
When Range View Elementary School students visit Severance Town Hall every year as part of a field trip, Rietkerk said, Mayor Donald McLeod and town board members tell the students about the rule, which is part of a larger ordinance that makes it illegal in Severance to throw or shoot stones or missiles at people, animals, buildings, trees, any other public or private property or vehicles.
Rietkerk added, “All of the kids always get blown away that it’s illegal to have snowball fights in Severance. So, what ends up happening is (town leaders) always encourage the kids with, ‘You have the power, you can change the law.’ No one has.”
Well, no one has up until now.
It was on his class’s field trip to Severance Town Hall that young Mr. Best began to formulate his plan to challenge the local government’s overreach. Prior to Dane’s meeting with the town board, he talked and planned for about a month and a half. He even enlisted the help of his classmates. Armed with letters from his friends and a list of reasons why the ban should be overturned, the boy bravely stood before the town board and delivered his speech.
“Today’s kids need reasons to play outside,” he told the town council. “Research suggests that a lack of exposure to the outdoors can lead to obesity, ADHD, anxiety and depression.”
The town board, of course, voted unanimously to overturn the ban, making it legal for children to have snowball fights. When asked by a town board member who Dane’s first snowball target would be, the young man didn’t hesitate, pointing straight at his four-year-old brother Dax.
Even though Severance’s ban on snowballs was never enforced, the law needed to be struck down. I applaud the town board for wisely using field trips to prompt students to take civic action. It speaks well of young Dane Best that he took up the challenge, did the work, and bravely spoke before the town board. No doubt, Dane has a bright future ahead of him.