The Greatest Water Balloon Fight ever
July 15, 2010 3:10 PM   Subscribe

We want to host a giant water balloon fight. Help us brainstorm the logistics!

Hey, I am trying to get permission from the city to shut down street and let us host a giant water balloon fight. I am anticipating around 200 people to participate.

Now, the question is, how do we organize a game like this?

I'm picturing splitting the group in half, and having the game be sort of a dodgeball activity to start off with. I'm down for having refs running around and calling people out when they get hit. I'd like to have multiple rounds where we eliminate half the people each round until we get down to a small battle royale with balloon stations scattered around the 'field'.

I feel like we'd need to load the balloons with slightly colored water and have the players wear white shirts so we can tell if you've been hit with a balloon directly or just sweated a lot.

Has anyone done something like this before, or have any ideas how we can manage it?
posted by ZackTM to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sounds like a fun street game!

Is it going to be open participation or will participants need to register? Although registration is boring, there are a couple benefits, for example you could make sure everyone signs a release waiver (with 200 people doing an activity there are bound to be some sort of small accidents, better to not be liable for them) and perhaps give out T-Shirts for a registration fee of the T-shirt cost. This also lets you split up teams, brand your event, and if you use bright colours like red or blue, you can easily see when people are hit.
posted by geoffr at 3:15 PM on July 15, 2010

Simpsons did it.

I think geoffr's registration idea is a good one. A little organization can mean the difference between a good time and something truly fantastic.

I would set a minimum team size so teams can register together and anyone who registers alone can be grouped into a team. Each team should have a captain and a designated home base where they can fill up balloons/restock/plot. Also, I think there should be some greater cohesive element than just a free-for-all fight; perhaps a capture-the-flag style organization would be good. Also, logistically, there should be a designated safe area for people (I assume you'll be hosting people of all ages?) to tend to wounds, take a quick breather, and stay hydrated.

This sounds like a really awesome idea. Let us know how it turns out!
posted by phunniemee at 3:29 PM on July 15, 2010

Be sure you have a clean-up crew for after the event.
posted by Carol Anne at 3:34 PM on July 15, 2010

Oh! I've participated in what is by some estimates the world's largest water balloon fight, Rice University's Beer Bike. I can't give you any advice other than to forget about having referees or filling the baloons with colored water (how would you even do that - you need pressured water coming out of a faucet to fill a water balloon). The fun is getting hit/hitting people over and over again, not getting hit once and having to sit out. It's chaos, and people like it that way - you can't really expect to control things in any meaningful way other than asking people not to intentionally hurt each other. No underfilled balloons (they don't burst on impact) and no aiming at faces rules would be a good start.

At Beer Bike, each college of ~250 people has prepared approximately 30,000-35,000 water balloons (for a total of about a third of a million balloons) that are loaded in trash cans onto truck platforms and distributed to others from the trucks (the trashcans are filled with extra water so the balloons don't burst during storage). Obviously, the filling of balloons starts weeks in advance and revolves around getting together and drinking.
posted by halogen at 3:37 PM on July 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

I second halogenĀ“s comment, trying to actually regulate any sor of elimination will only result in cheating, frustration, etc. Sounds like fun though, good luck!

Oh, and waivers are your friend.
posted by masters2010 at 3:48 PM on July 15, 2010

While I don't have advice for your particular questions above, I have participated in a couple big water fights and here is what I learned:
  • You will need 2-3X the number of balloons you think you will.
  • Do not stack too many balloons on top of other balloons (2-3 layers max) as the ones on the bottom will pop.
  • Do not have people filling balloons during the event. It sucks to be the person not having fun getting wet

posted by chiefthe at 4:24 PM on July 15, 2010

Re: chiefthe's stacking comment, I (another Beer-Bike veteran) note that we would get around this by stacking the balloons in trash cans with a healthy amount of water. There is still a limit (the balloons are, if mostly filled, not super buoyant), but it's way more than 2-3 layers of balloons. You want shit-tons of balloons.

But, um, pro-tip: if guarding your stockpile of balloons that have taken weeks to fill, DO NOT let someone pour an unidentified liquid into the trash can full of semi-floating balloons. Because a cup-full of an organic solvent -- like WD-40 -- will do interesting and catastrophic things to your balloon stockpile.
posted by chalkbored at 4:33 PM on July 15, 2010

Not a water balloon fight, but here are specific instructions re how to organize, arrange invites, prepare for, participate in, and clean up after a food fight with whipped cream!

Good luck and have fun!
posted by onlyconnect at 6:10 PM on July 15, 2010

I can't give you any advice other than to forget about having referees or filling the baloons with colored water (how would you even do that - you need pressured water coming out of a faucet to fill a water balloon).

The simplest way would be to put a drop or two of non-staining colorant into the empty balloon, then fill from the tap as normal. You'd set up a short assembly line, probably one color-adder to two or three balloon fillers, given that adding color shouldn't take as long as filling and tying the balloons.

Alternatively you could put the colorant in a general purpose liquid hose sprayer that terminated in a narrow enough nozzle that it could be fitted to a water balloon. That might be a bit hard to find, though.

I have no idea what a good source for colorant would be. Something like these colorants used in things like laundry detergent would probably work, but I don't know where you'd go to buy small quantities.
posted by jedicus at 7:56 PM on July 15, 2010

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