Feb Fest celebrations marred by protests, rioting.

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In a region where tensions are already high from seasonal oppression, violence broke out as pro-winter and anti-winter factions clashed near market square.

Pro-winter demonstrators had donned ice skates and toques in preparation for a solidarity skate on the open air ice rink shadowed by the imposing architecture of City Hall. Before their glide was able to begin, a large faction of anti-winter demonstrators had gathered with horns and signs bearing warm slogans. Marching in protest of the season which has imposed harsh, often brutal seasonal weather, the anti-winter faction sought to blockade the skaters from their annual celebration.

It is not initially clear where the violence began, but from a scuffle in the crowd a number of snowballs were seen flying through the air. The anti-winter group scattered, terrified of getting ice inside their jackets. They regrouped at a safe distance before returning fire with snowballs of their own, some soaked in water to make dangerous slush-bombs.

Bystanders caught in the middle sought refuge underneath bleachers and inside local businesses. Some of the wounded were seen being treated inside the many local coffee shops with hot chocolate and warm water bottles.

As the battle raged on, it seemed that the anti-winter faction was gaining the upper hand, including the high ground at the Jack Astor’s rooftop patio. However, an unexpected snow-squall scattered their strength and left the pro-winter group victorious, although highly fractured.

Celebrations are set to continue throughout the weekend, with more protests planned. Officials have condemned any use of violence, and are considering building snow forts and placing snow blowers in strategic locations to avoid these kinds of skirmishes in future.

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