Dupont Circle snowball fights a boon for local businesses

Local,Amy Seed

The Dupont Circle snowball fights were a big hit in Washington and served as an economic 'stimulus' to the community

While most business activity was at a stand-still this week, Facebook remained a source of high-energy, generating a 300-person snowball fight and an economic boost for Washington residents willing to brave the blizzard.

Washingtonians gathered at Dupont Circle for a community snowball fight Wednesday at 2 p.m. fueled in part by “The Official Dupont Circle Snowball Fight” Facebook page and occasional Twitter updates.

A previous snowball fight was held the afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 6 during the first of two recent snowfalls. It was estimated that roughly 2,000-3,000 residents participated, said Ami Greener, one of two creators of the Facebook group, in a phone interview.

“The whole thing was full, the whole circle,” Greener said of Saturday’s fight.

This fight was publicized via Facebook and created a swell in group membership over the past week. Greener runs the Facebook page together with co-creator Michael Lipin. It began with 33 members last Thursday and grew to 7,020 members as of yesterday.

Due to harsh weather conditions, the turn-out of Wednesday's fight 300 was not as large as Saturday’s 3,000, but it was still enjoyable, said Greener.

“I enjoyed it personally more because it wasn’t like a mob,” he said of Wednesday’s fight. Participants were able to better aim for their targets because of the small group size. This fight ended earlier than the previous one on Feb. 6 because of blizzard conditions, he said.

Although most businesses were closed, Greener and Lipin held a small after-party at Kramerbooks & Afterwards Café & Grill, located near Dupont Circle. They wanted to support local businesses that remained open despite the snow as well as have fun, Greener said.

Small groups filtered into the café and were greeted with snow-themed drinks with names such as “Snowpocolypse.” Abby Sexton, restaurant manager, said in a phone interview that the business was one of the few to stay open this week as well as keep their regular hours.

“Certainly the snowball fight was a great contributor,” said Sexton, who was grateful for the extra business generated by the snowball fight.

“We sort of stimulated the economy on a day that would have been dead,” Greener said. Aside from dining, the two creators made it possible for fans to support a local design studio as well.

The studio, Eighty2degrees, created T-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, magnets and bumper stickers designs specifically for the Official Dupont Circle Snowball Fight. Prices range from $4-40.

The group is sending a third of all souvenir proceeds to IsraAID, the Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, an organization assisting with earthquake relief in Haiti.

“I got contacted by one of the organizers, Ami Greener, to develop some designs to commemorative the historic event,” said Ambica Prakash, creative designer for Eighty2degrees, LLC in a phone interview.

Designs featured the fountain at Dupont Circle and snowballs and have increased traffic to the Eighty2degrees website, said Prakash.

Green said he hadn’t set a date for the next snowball fight, but said that he and Lipin are already eyeing the forecasted snow for Monday.

“We’ll announce it Sunday,” said Greener, who advises those interested in an upcoming fight to check for updates on the Facebook page.

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