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    All is fair in snow and war

    Of course it was the MIT kids who brought the ultimate weapon to a snowball battle.

    As dozens gathered on Boston Common for all-out winter combat someone brought a three-person elastic snowball slingshot. One man came bare-handed to better manipulate and shape his arctic spheres. But it was the group from across the river who had the inflatable white swan.

    In peacetime, the store-bought vinyl bird might have been used as a pool toy, but as the storm bore down Thursday it became both battle flag and shield as its bearers rushed into the fray, impervious to the onslaught as they launched snowballs around the sides.


    “It’s the source of their power!” one man screamed as foes hurled projectiles at the engineers huddled around the regal water fowl. Suddenly, an idea began to spread: If snowballs weren’t enough, maybe brute force would be.

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    Several people rushed the swan, tackled it, and left it flat. Then hostilities ceased, and all the combatants gathered around the swan to sing “Amazing Grace” and give brief elegies.

    The group who brought the bird, friends from the Christian group MIT Cru, then repaired to the side of the Parkman Bandstand to attempt to fix it.

    “He valiantly protected us until he couldn’t any longer,’ said TojumiOluwa Adegboyega.

    Out on the field, the battle resumed.


    Scott Schaffer, the Emerson College student who organized the battle through Facebook, scrambled to marshal two sides against one another. But though the early afternoon weather was coming hard and fast, the ground was soon picked nearly clean of snow.

    As the fusillades died down, Schaffer said he was thrilled by the jubilant atmosphere.

    “This is what you have to do during the winter,” he said. “This is the first time we got snow this winter, and this needed to happen.”

    Sam Fidler, also from Emerson and a friend of Schaffer, said the battle had been difficult. His side had been throwing snowballs into the wind, and he had taken some heavy fire. But he had few regrets

    “In the end, what made it worth fighting was that we had the swan,” he said, honoring the MIT students by making reference to a notorious prank at the school. “They put a police car on the roof. They’re going to win a snowball fight no matter what they do.”

    Steve Annear of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Andy Rosen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @andyrosen.