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St. Paul, Minn., Preps Break Record For Largest Snowball Fight

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Seattle broke the Guinness World Record for largest snowball fight in January with 5,834 participants. St. Paul, Minn., hopes to top that next month during its Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival. For more, Melissa Block speaks with Joe Alton, a project manager for the carnival and its snowball-fight organizer.


Snow is also critical for another winter sporting event, though this one has yet to qualify as an Olympic sport, that's snowball fighting. In January, St. Paul, Minnesota, hopes to set a new Guinness world record for the largest snowball fight. Seattle holds the title set this past January with 5,834 throwers. Joe Alton, the event organizer, joins me from St. Paul to talk about his snowball ambitions. Mr. Alton, welcome to the program.

JOE ALTON: Thank you so much for having me, Melissa.

BLOCK: And first of all, let's talk about the snow. Are you going to have enough?

ALTON: Oh, that's always the million dollar question and in terms of our event in general, we've done this event for five years, the Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival, and generally speaking, we're hoping against snow. So this year, we're in the unique position of wanting as much snow as possible to fall between now and January.

BLOCK: You're saying bring it on.

ALTON: Exactly, exactly, yeah.

BLOCK: Where are you going to put - assuming you get all these thousands of folks to throw snowballs, where are you going to put them? What's the set for this?

ALTON: It'll be a sectioned off portion of our event space. We'll have some scaffolding and things set up for the witnesses and for news crews and things like that and then, two separate sides will both be working from there, kind of dike of snow, to make snowballs and hurl them at one another in a fun and festive way. Not aggressively, of course.

BLOCK: Of course. And how long does this have to last?

ALTON: To qualify for the Guinness Book of World Records, we need folks consistently throwing snowballs at each other for one full minute.

BLOCK: That's not so long, really.

ALTON: You know, you'd think that, but in a scene like this with, hopefully, 7,000 or more people throwing snow at one another, you never really know how long people will be able to stick it out.

BLOCK: All right. Well, are the snowballs premade or are people going to making them and throwing them during the event? How does it work?

ALTON: We've gone back and forth on that, the concern being that if it's too cold and these snowballs are premade, say, 24 hours leading up to the event, that the biggest concern we have is them becoming ice balls instead of snow balls. So our main objective is to keep the snow powder and in a position that it can still be made into snowballs.

BLOCK: All right. Well, in the end, you have to prove that you've beaten Seattle's record. How do you judge how many people have been actually throwing snowballs for one minute straight?

ALTON: The intention is to count the folks on their way in and then Guinness asks that you get a signature on a piece of paper from the participants after the event. So we'll have some witnesses that will be charged with standing on that scaffolding and keeping an eye on the crowd and then we've got a videographer that will be leading a drone to fly over the event to be able to go back later and count and we'll submit that footage and the signatures to Guinness.

BLOCK: Wait a minute. You're using a drone to count snowball throwers in your snowball fight.

ALTON: That is correct.

BLOCK: No stone unturned here.

ALTON: Well, you know, if you're going to go for the record of the largest snowball fight, you have to successfully accomplish the record, otherwise it'll probably just be a, you know, a big mess.

BLOCK: Well, Joe Alton, best of luck. Thanks for talking to us.

ALTON: Thanks again.

BLOCK: Joe Alton is project manager for the upcoming Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival in St. Paul, Minnesota, where they'll be trying to set a new Guinness World Record for the largest snowball fight.


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