The social networking organization Social Society Cleveland has scheduled a Water Balloon Fight for July 16
at Edgewater Park, days before the Republican National Convention.
But due to perceived sexual undertones and suspicions of insufficient clean-up plans, not to mention the organization's lack of an official permit, the event has become the object of criticism online.
"Looking to have fun Good/Clean/Fun this summer like you did when you were a kid?" Reads the latest permutation of the event description on Facebook. "Come participate in a water fight in Edgewater Park. To participate. 1) Must wear a white t-shirt so people know you are participating. 2) Must bring own water products unless you [purchase] 30 pre-filled water balloons for $5. 3) Water fight will not begin until whistle is blown and will continue until that last water balloon is thrown."
Initially, it was the white t-shirt requirement that angered commenters. They suggested that the event was not family-friendly at all. It was more akin to a wet t-shirt contest than any sort of good/clean/fun, they said. But those arguments gave way to what many identified as the more important environmental issues.
Erin Huber, the founder and executive director of Drink Local Drink Tap, told Scene
that though she considered the white t-shirts "tacky," the pollution was indeed her primary concern.
"The waste would degrade our park and affect our water ways," she wrote Scene
in an email. "Animals can swallow balloon pieces and die. Animals can get stuck in balloons and die. A nice colorful item that looks delicious can attract animals, like birds, and have effects that I'm sure this group did not intend."
Huber said that the event was differentiated in her mind from something like Edgewater Live, which also generates a great deal of litter, because the Metroparks plans and manages the weekly beach concerts professionally.
"I purposely walk the park the mornings after Edgewater LIVE," Huber said, "and I'm constantly impressed by the cleanup crew and the overall cleanliness of the park post-event."
Though the Social Society Facebook page repeatedly said that the Water Balloon Fight would have a clean-up crew, commenters probed for more information, convinced that the clean-up crew would be too small. Assurances that the fight would be held in the grassy area, not the sandy beach, didn't help. And commenters resented the fact that many of their concerns were being deleted from the page.
No reps from Social Society Cleveland responded to Scene's
request for comment via the group's listed email account. Metroparks spokesman Rick Haase told Scene,
however, that the event was neither approved nor permitted.
Huber said she ascribed no ill will to the Social Society group, but said that in her view, the event was better off canceled.
"There are many organizations working to cleanup our communities and create family friendly events at our lakefront parks. Maybe see if there are ways to partner with those organizations," Huber suggested, "to have a fun event where people can network."
In the meantime, a persistent antagonist has responded to many of the recent favorable Facebook posts:
"They don't have a permit, Metroparks have been contacted," she wrote repeatedly. "This will be shut down."