The snow-covered Drillfield became a battlefield on Tuesday evening as students fought to the finish under a setting sun in the annual civilian versus cadets snowball fight.
All icy hell broke loose around 5 p.m. as civilians and cadets faced each other in a tradition that has become a hallmark of the Virginia Tech experience.
Some 5,500 Virginia Tech students were invited via Facebook to participate in the competitive, yet all-inclusive, powdery squall. Despite the unofficial Facebook guest list, all students were welcome to join in on the slushy excitement.
Of the 5,500 people on Facebook who were invited to the event, about 2,900 “joined.” That is over 50 percent more than last year’s 1,400 students who RSVP’d via Facebook.
Sophomore wildlife conservation major Murjan Hammad took it upon himself to establish a date and time for the legendary brawl to transpire.
“I figured if there was a different protocol, someone would correct me,” Hammad said, remembering how last year’s snowball fight was similarly organized by a “random person.”
To snuff confusion among the student body, Hammad originally scheduled the event for Monday evening at 5 p.m. After a halt in Blacksburg Transit operation and an influx of direct messages, he created a poll and found that the majority of Facebook users preferred for the grand skirmish to take place the following day. This change allowed for adequate preparation, and more importantly, the accumulation of more snow.
“It was kind of a lot of pressure,” Hammad said of trying to please the entire student body. “But I kind of just decided you know, why not just pick a time and go with it?”
When asked how he would prepare for the snowball fight, Hammad said he would show up ready to brawl in a gorilla suit. He did just that.
“I just hope it’s a good time,” Hammad said before the event took place.
Students weren’t the only ones to show their hype for the impending, frosty tradition on social media. President Timothy Sands took his enthusiasm to Twitter on Monday and expressed his anticipation for partaking in his first cadet versus civilian snowball fight as a Hokie.
“Consider me drafted and honored to serve as a rookie civilian in this epic annual conflagration. #FortressBurruss #Hokies,” Sands tweeted.
Joining Sands in the rookie civilian lineup was freshman theatre major Julia Russo, who was invited to the Facebook event by her resident advisor. In preparation for the snowball fight, she wore her warmest clothes and two pairs of pants as temperatures dropped to the mid-20s.
Russo said Tuesday’s snowball tussle was unlike any other she had previously been a part of.
“I feel like this is a lot more exciting because there is a lot more people and a bigger playing field, and these people take it more seriously than my parents or something,” Russo said amid the frenzy.
Like many civilians and cadets, The Hokie Bird was present with a GoPro. Additionally, a drone with a camera flew overhead capturing aerial footage of soaring snowballs and members of the corps charging en masse.
Much like the snowfall that blanketed campus last Monday, some Virginia Tech traditions really do “stick.” The civilian-cadet snowball fight tradition is surely here to stay.