Conway Snowball Drop
One – Two – Three! POOF! Approximately 1500 white ping pong balls were shot out of air cannons mounted on the back of two pick-up trucks, creating “snow-showers” on Laurel St. between 3rd and 4th Ave in downtown Conway. Talk about a snowball fight!
This event was in its 5th year, but it was my first. I brought my six-year old daughter, Hannah, with me to check it out. A pick-up truck, one mounted with two air cannons and one mounted with only one air cannon, were parked a block apart from each other, cannons aimed towards the middle of the street where a few hundred people gathered waiting in anticipation with plastic bags and felt baskets to collect “snowballs.” The organizers welcomed us and informed us that we could only collect as many ping pong balls, aka snowballs, as we could fit into our hands and that the first snowball drop was going to be for children up through the ages of 13. There would be multiple drops for the adults afterwards. We were told that some of the ping pong balls would have numbers on them, some would not.
Not really knowing what to expect myself, I tried to prepare my daughter for what I was predicting to be an ensuing rampage. I told her that ping pong balls were going to be everywhere and she should try to grab as many as she could – whether they had numbers on them or not. But it was going to be hard to get the ping pong balls because there were going to be other kids trying to grab them away from her. She nodded her head confidently and positioned herself in the middle of the pint-sized crowd. I waited on the sidewalk, watching with the other parents and snowball drop enthusiasts. One – Two – Three! POOF! A giant explosion of air and white ping pong balls rained down on the children. The balls bounced and rolled and children grabbed and lunged for them. Hannah tried to grab one that ended up rolling between someone else’s feet and was ultimately picked up by a little girl. She tried for another one which was snatched quickly away by an older boy. Hannah looked at me terrified and started crying. She walked towards me through the crowd as if time had stopped, rubbing her eyes. The other children ran around her collecting the errant ping pong balls. She sobbed that someone threw a ping pong ball at her arm and it hurt. My heart started to get heavy as I realized she would leave this event without collecting any ping pong balls. A kind older woman behind us tapped me on the shoulder and opened her two hands to uncover five ping pong balls that had bounced her way near the sidewalk. She poured them into my hands and I said thank you from the bottom of my heart. Another older woman came over and gave us four more. Hannah was still sobbing and rubbing her arm. I saw nothing on her arm and am convinced she was scared from the chaos more than anything. I walked her over to the prize table where the children could turn in their ping pong balls for prizes if the ping pong ball had a number on it. The prizes included silly bandz and pieces of candy. Three of our ping pong cache had numbers on them, the others were blank. Hannah said she didn’t want the prizes. I started to wonder if this was a good idea.
They announced that they were going to begin the adult snowball drop and I was excited to try my hand at this game. Hannah opted to stay on the sidewalk and watch, tears still in her eyes. One – Two – Three! POOF! The truck with two air cannons on it shot out ping pong balls which showered down and bounced on the asphalt and off of people as my fellow adults proved to be very quick at snatching them. I grabbed at a few little white, rolling, bouncing, dancing balls but came up with nothing. I looked at Hannah and shrugged my shoulders, trying to show her that it was okay to come up empty handed. She shrugged back at me but looked at me as if maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough. We were directed to turn around as Cannon Number Two on the other truck was about to make it snow. One – Two – Three! POOF! This time Hannah gathered two snowballs on her own near the sidewalk. She smiled proudly as she produced them. I had snagged one myself. All three of them had a number and a store address on them. We dropped them into the cloth bag we had brought. We were told to turn around and prepare for Cannon Number One to “snow” on us again. Hannah decided to stay with me in the middle of the street for the following bursts of “snow.” One – Two – Three! POOF! In all we gathered seven snowball/ping pong balls which had a prize number and name and address of a Conway store on them. Now it was time to go on a treasure hunt to find the stores and redeem our “snowballs” to find out what we had “won!”
Our first snowball led us to PALMETTO PATIO where in exchange for our snowball we were offered buy-one-get-one-free spices. We chose John Henry’s Texas Chicken Tickler (which the staff recommended) and Smokey Bourbon Rub which I thought would make good gifts for my husband who does all the cooking in our house. The store was cozy and boasted indoor fireplaces burning warmly as well as outdoor grill equipment. Next was US INTERNATIONAL NAIL SPA where they gave us an envelope with a gift certificate for a 10 minute massage! We walked down the street to LITTLE ANGELS/BIG OAK FRAME SHOP where Hannah redeemed our snowball for a free photo album – Hannah picked out a pink zebra print 4X6 album. This place was full of adorable baby and small children’s clothing as well as bows and other baby items, monogramming and professional framing services. We then walked down to K.C.’s DELI where we were awarded a $5 gift certificate for our snowball. We chose to redeem it right then for a drink and a cookie dough brownie. Delicious. Next we set out to find OH SEW CUTE which offered us 20% off of a $100 purchase. I told them thank you, but I wasn’t prepared to spend $100 today. They said I could keep the snowball and bring it back when I was ready. Hannah and I browsed the shop and the owners explained that they make clothing to order, will purchase fabric, and they print tin designs which they powder-coat with color, all made-to-order. They had tin monogram signs, animal designs, and University of South Carolina Gamecock and Clemson Tiger logos. They even had custom made backpacks and umbrellas. I felt I needed to get really creative with Christmas present ideas and come back to redeem our snowball. Our next ping pong ball led us to THE TRESTLE CAFE & BAKERY. They let Hannah pick out a free baked good in exchange for our snowball. She chose a chocolate chip cookie – another yummy treat. Our last snowball was for the MAD HATTER. We had no idea where this was as the street name wasn’t in the walk-able area of downtown Conway. We walked to the Conway Visitor’s Center and they looked it up online for us. It was about a two minute drive away. We got in our car and circled around a one-way street until we found a brick building which held an amazing trove of treasures. When we walked in to redeem our snowball one of the owners greeted us and informed us that they had 3,000 square feet of art, antiques, and cool vintage goods. I was in heaven! I love this kind of stuff! She exchanged our snowball for a wood beaded necklace. Hannah was not impressed. The owner, sensing this, walked Hannah towards the back of this amazing store until she stopped at a section with necklaces, bracelets, purses, and shoes. She told Hannah to pick out a few and show them to her and she would let Hannah know which one she could have. Wow – this woman just made my child’s day. Hannah paced the area a few times and picked out a necklace with a peace sign on it and a bracelet that jangled with small reflective discs. The woman told her they were both excellent choices and asked Hannah which one she thought matched her outfit. Hannah chose the bracelet with a big smile (and hasn’t taken the bracelet off since). She said I could keep the wood necklace too! I could have spent all day in there! But Hannah was pulling my hand towards the door. I slowly shuffled my feet not wanting to miss all that this store had to offer. Hannah pointed out an old brass bed frame with two Cabbage Patch dolls on it that looked like the ones from my childhood that I had saved and she now played with at home. I noticed a pair of 1920’s wedding shoes, an array of hats, small porcelain music boxes – one with a scene from Gone With the Wind on it, a rack of vintage clothing – including a black velvet overcoat, and a table and chairs with bright blue legs, as well as oil paintings – just to name a few things! Right before we reached the door I spotted a patch-work quilt – one of my weaknesses. They told me it was patch-work fabric from the 1930’s coupled with a 1920’s duvet. I picked it up and hugged it as a feather escaped into the air. The patch-work was mix-match and boasted navy blue, red, pink, light blue, and patterned pieces – every time I turned it around I found a different kind of patch. It was a bit smaller than a twin bed. The price was $75 and the owners handed me a coupon for 25% off. I marched it up to the register and promised I’d be back to discover their store without my small child insisting we go home now that all of our “snowballs” had melted.
I really did not know what to expect when I first read about the Snowball Drop in Conway. I figured that if nothing else, being pelted with 1500 ping pong balls would be an adventure. In the end we also discovered more great local businesses in the Conway area – kudos to Downtown Conway for another great event! Wrapped up in the patch-work quilt in the back seat of our van as we headed home, Hannah declared she had had fun and asked if we could come back to the snowball drop again next year. Yes, Hannah, we most definitely will!
Cost: Free snowball drop event, with no obligation to redeem your snowball/ping pong balls