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More than 100 adults got out of bed on a day in which they were under no obligation to do so in order to pelt each other with snowballs. They gathered on two sides of an imaginary line on the National Mall and, upon someone’s scream, charged. Several shy combatants stood back from the thick of the battle, throwing snowballs at their own teammates. After about a minute or so, they retreated, with no clear sense of whether they were victorious.

“We just picked up a snowball and started throwing it and are going to see what happens,” said Melvin Moran, 33, who came in from Arlington for the fight, which was organized by the Washington DC Snowball Fight Association.

Even amid the chaos on the Mall, some people managed to participate with some purposed competitiveness. One man tried to get his teammates to participate in a chant, screaming “We will take back what is rightfully ours!” (It was unclear what was taken from them.)

Gabriel Reyes, 24, a former college track runner, was wearing a Superman shirt and came to the fight with one of his former teammates. They seemed to treat the event more intensely than most, aiming at specific people whom he says were yelling “die Superman” before they hit him.

“We’re just competitive athletes,” said Reyes. “We have personal vendettas against people who hit us.”

Stephanie Linares had a little less of a fighter’s mentality, and said her team had at one point tried a V-charge formation to beat their opponents, but that strategy ultimately dissipated. “I really had nothing else to do,” Linares said. “It’s the best way to exercise when it snows.”

But what may be even better exercise on a snowy Mall? Cross-country skiing.

While the snowball fight was underway, at least six skiers trekked from the Capitol to the Washington Monument.

“There’s not that many opportunities to do this,” says Ann Mesnikoff, who was skiing on the Mall with two friends. “It’s a good work out.”

Photos by Perry Stein