After dark water fight
May 12, 2011 11:17 AM   Subscribe

How do I go about organizing an after dark water fight in New York City?

So I had the idea for an after dark super soaker fight (with flashlights taped to the water guns for illumination) last year during the middle of the summer. A good number of my friends really liked the idea. I'd like to put it on. Problem: I've never organized an event this large before.

Should I have a $30 fee and supply the water guns or make it a bring your own? For New Yorkers, I was thinking of using McCarren park, do I need a permit, to talk to the cops, what? I was thinking of getting the water from a local bar, wherever I have the water fight, talking to them ahead of time and maybe having some kind of deal with the promise of bringing in more people to drink after the event. (As long as they don't mind soaked customers). What's a good size to plan for?

Basically, I have this great idea, but I have no idea what steps to take first. Any additional advice beyond the questions I have posted is welcome. I think I have publicity ideas nailed down (facebook, nonsensenyc, maybe Gemini & Scorpio), but any other suggestions are also welcome in that department.
posted by Hactar to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It might be much easier on private property.
posted by R. Mutt at 11:21 AM on May 12, 2011're going to go to a park at night and have a bunch of people running around with flashlights...and the cops are going to show up and what do you propose then?

As far as I know, parks in NYC are off-limits after dark for a number of reasons, not limited to the city not wanting to have to be liable for idiots tripping over roots that they can't see.

If you want to do this, I'd do it on someone's private property outside of NYC.

All that having been said, call 311 and ask them how best to proceed. They likely will say the same thing I say above. But at least it will be the official line.
posted by dfriedman at 11:23 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have you considered asking our honorary mayor, Mr. Bloomberg? Here's the webpage to send him an email message.
posted by jchaw at 12:00 PM on May 12, 2011

The Come Out and Play festival, every summer, sounds like it might be right up your alley. You can submit a proposal to play a big game right now. The "field day" is 7/16 this year. I don't know about after dark, but they can tell you--they've got the infrastructure of Big Urban Gaming down pat.
posted by Ollie at 12:09 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

do I need a permit, to talk to the cops, what?

If your plan is to have a lot of people running around in the dark with water guns, I'd say yes, you should at the very least speak to the cops or some of your friends are going to get shot.
posted by mhoye at 12:13 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Any event for 20 or more people requires a special event permit in NYC Parks.

As far as I know, parks in NYC are off-limits after dark for a number of reasons,

NYC parks are open from 6 A.M. to 1 A.M., unless other hours are posted at the park.
posted by Jahaza at 12:27 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here is some information on how to apply for a special event permit from the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. It looks like the cost for a special athletic, non-charitable event in McCarren Park would be between $1600 and $3600, so you should plan to charge a cover fee that mitigates that cost.

I think this is a great idea. If you get a green light, please do post it to Projects or IRL so MeFites can participate!
posted by brina at 12:28 PM on May 12, 2011

In McCarren Park the baseball field lights (really bright!) stay on until midnight or so; unless you limit play to the furthest corners of the park, your flashlights are going to be pretty pointless.
posted by hermitosis at 12:38 PM on May 12, 2011

Even if you have a permit to gather that many people, the very first moment in which someone gets irritated or freaked out by your behavior (or inadvertently soaked) and calls 311, the cops are going to run you off. If I saw grownups running around playing with fake guns in the dark, I'd think it was obnoxious at best, unsafe at worst.

Your event sounds like a blast, but in a public park that's antisocial behavior, especially considering how many other people are enjoying the park on any given night.
posted by hermitosis at 12:45 PM on May 12, 2011

Safety: Perhaps you should get water guns that are extremely obviously toys; bright colors and fun shapes. Make a big sticker that all participants have to wear on front & back, like runners, with the rules, the game info, and contact info, and/or make neon tshirts. Even better if labels are glow-in-the-dark. I've seen glow-in-the-dark tape; put tape around all gun barrels and handles.

Yeah call 311, but I'd probably rather ask for forgiveness than permission, if it's fewer than @ 50 people. However, visit the precinct, and talk to some cops. If NYC is so deadly that supersoakers might get you killed, move.
posted by theora55 at 3:05 PM on May 12, 2011

That sounds like fun - I hope you do it. I wonder what you mean by "a good number". If it's hundreds, you may need a permit. If it's less than, umm... 30, I say just try to fly under the radar.

Unless otherwise posted, NYC parks are open until 1 AM. While the parks police typically ignore picnics with wine/beer, it is not legal to carry open containers of alcohol in the parks.

The more noise you make, the more attention you will attract, but everything is relative, and New York summer nights are full of happy people having fun, so you might not stand out at all. If you do it after Dance Parade or the Mermaid Parade, for example, you may be the driest and sanest-looking folks around. I agree that fun costumes and bright plastic water guns will help ensure that you are not mistaken for paramilitary types. Use reasonable intelligence and reasonable discretion, but don't be afraid. People are too afraid nowadays.

McCarren Park is fun but, as noted above, bright. Also not that big. Prospect Park is huge and beautiful and dark. Central Park rocks. Riverside Park along the Hudson is a great place to run around at night, too. How about Coney Island?

Most bars like it when you bring crowds, with or without advance warning, but if you are going to be filling the water guns in their bathrooms you might introduce yourself first and start tipping early.
posted by jcrcarter at 3:51 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree with everyone, doing an event like this at night would cause you all sorts of problems. I know there's a water gun fight in central park every year. From what I've seen everyone is fine about it as long as your not bothering anyone who's not involved in the water gun fight itself.

There's even safety rules like bright colors guns and no water balloons because of littering issues.

I think you can do a google search and on water gun fight in nyc, and get more info
posted by SomeDude at 8:17 AM on May 24, 2011

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