February 9, 2009
Sometimes, even the best ideas can use some fine tuning to become even better the next time around. The Sedalia Parks Department’s Snowball Drop is one of those ideas.
Recreation Superintendent Amy Epple brought the idea here from her days serving in the parks department in Warrensburg. The plan was for an airplane to drop more than 3,000 “snowballs” — Ping-Pong balls — in two passes over the soccer field at Clover Dell Park, and after all the balls had been dropped, children would race to collect them. Specially marked balls would be redeemed for prizes, and all children in attendance would receive a free day’s admission to the pool.
The event was well-received — so much so that traffic backed up for blocks leading to the park and the pilot delayed dropping the balls to allow more families to get in and take part.
Unfortunately, after the first load of balls was dropped, some children and their parents rushed onto the soccer field; those who “played by the rules” were left wondering if they should join in to ensure they wouldn’t be left out.
“It was like a domino effect,” Epple told us. “Once one takes off, you can’t hold the others back.”
Since Federal Aviation Administration rules restrict how closely a plane can fly to people and structures, the pilot could not make the second drop in the specified area.
Still, most parents and children who attended the Snowball Drop had fun, despite the glitches.
“The older kids had an excellent time,” said Epple, who noted that about 1,000 children took part. “But some of the little ones did get kind of lost in the crowd.”
So how do we build on the event’s successes and correct its shortcomings? Parks department personnel met Monday and discussed possible changes and improvements, including separating children into two age groups and ensuring that more parks personnel and volunteers — wearing brightly colored shirts so they are more easily recognizable — are on hand to help manage the crowd.
Epple said she has heard some critics say the event should just be dropped. Her response: No way.
“Some people said they won’t be back, but I hope they will give it another try,” she said.
We join Epple in that thought and are hopeful that anyone who has suggestions for ways to improve the Snowball Drop will offer them up instead of just bailing out on what could become an outstanding annual event. Better yet, those folks could become event volunteers; that way they can help ensure that the Snowball Drop is fun for all.