It’s never too early to get into politics. That’s what one 9-year-old boy discovered after he decided to reverse a decades-old restriction that prohibited snowball fights in his small town in Severance, Colorado.
Dane Best, a third-grader, first learned of a law prohibiting snow balls during a tour of the town hall with the mayor, Don McLeod. During the tour, McLeod and other tour guides like to point out odd or “silly” laws that are on the books, including the ordinance against snowballs. He then challenges the youngsters to change them. Dane was the first to take him up on the offer.
In fact, Dane realized that he had already “broken the law” by throwing snowballs with his friends. He had no idea that doing so was illegal in his town. Dane then started to work to change the law—with a little help from his classmates and parents.
He sat in on city hall meetings to learn about how to change a law. He also had his friends write letters, spoke on public radio and even gave rousing speech in support of his cause.
“It is an outdated law,” Dane told city council members. “And I want to throw a snowball without getting in trouble.”
Dane also spoke on Colorado’s Public Radio. “Today’s kids need reasons to play outside,” he said. “Research suggests that a lack of exposure to the outdoors can lead to obesity, ADHD, anxiety and depression.”
It’s hard to argue with that type of logic.
The city council agreed with Dane’s reasoning and decided to strike down the decades old ban, with a few stipulations. No one is allowed to put rocks in snowballs or to target windows, but other than that kids in Severance are now allowed to have legally sanctioned snowball fights. Dane and his younger brother were even allowed to throw the first snowball in the city limits. He admitted that when it comes to snowballs, one of his favorite targets remains his brother.
As the town celebrates the ability to finally throw snowballs without worrying about the possibility of arrest, the core of this story demonstrates something incredibly important. It doesn’t take a lot to make a change. All it took was a simple challenge, and one third-grader decided to spring into action and learned a great lesson about how civics works.
It goes to show that it is never too early to get into politics. Every state has “silly” laws that were designed for a specific time or situation that could be repealed. For example, Kentucky strictly requires its public officials to swear that they have never participated in a duel with deadly weapons, it is illegal in Georgia to eat fried chicken with utensils, and in Iowa it is a misdemeanor to pass margarine as real butter. All these laws can be changed—all it takes is someone like Dane.
“You can be any age to change a law or have a voice in your town,” Dane said. It’s the best lesson that he learned.
Dane’s story may encourage others to go out and change some of the silly laws in their states or towns. It may be legal now in Severance to throw a snowball, but it is still prohibited in Topeka, Kansas. Maybe a child in Topeka can take up the cause.