Up to 7,000 could burst water balloon record for a third time


Security controlled the crowd on the Johnson Center field on Friday, August 27, 2010. The crowd had gathered in order to attempt to break the world record for the world’s largest water balloon fight. In place were two rows of water balloons, people were not allowed in the center, between the two rows. .Latara Appleby

By: Joy Priest

When it comes to the World’s Largest Water Balloon Fight, UK nursing alumnus John Biery describes it as “two weeks of anticipation for four minutes of madness.”

Biery, who participated in the August 2010 fight, which cemented UK’s Christian Student Fellowship organization as the Guinness World Record holder for the second time, said that it is absolute mayhem at Johnson Center Field when the balloons start flying.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” he said. “There aren’t too many events that are like this. It’s just craziness … I wouldn’t break a world record otherwise.”

The World’s Largest Water Balloon Fight first broke Microsoft’s record in August 2009 before being defeated in July 2010 by Brigham Young University, who upped them by 25 people. But last August, UK and CSF redeemed themselves, once again grabbing the world record title, when they brought 5,976 participants — 2,000 more people than BYU — to the field.

This year, organizer and logistics master Wes Benninger said CSF is expecting 6,000 to 7,000 participants.

“Around June 6 we started filling up water balloons,” Benninger said. “We have about 220 student leaders in our organization, and when they get back, they get about 1,000 balloons to fill. In one day, we’ll fill about 30,000 water balloons. I’m looking out my window right now and people are filling up balloons.”

UK student Jerry Muir, who Benninger refers to as “the John Wall of handymen,” constructed a balloon-filling apparatus that members of CSF refer to as the “Jer-Bear.” The machine allows 10 people to fill balloons at a time. In one filling, 90 water balloons can be made, according to Benninger.

At the start of the fight, 100,000 balloons sit on the field. Each participant gets 25 balloons to use wisely in the five-minute battle.

“We have different judges within the community that come out that night to watch the fight,” Benninger said. “They make an official statement and get it notorized.”

After taking count of a number of factors, including injury waivers, number of wristbands given out and broken balloons, CSF will send the numbers off to England and wait six weeks for Guinness to approve the record.

The unprecedented fight was born a few years ago when Benninger and other members of CSF were trying to come up with an awesome beginning of the year event that everyone could participate in, he said.

“We just think that Jesus was the party, so we wanted to throw the best party on UK’s campus each year,” Benninger said.

There’s only one rule that must be kept in all of the madness.

“You’re not allowed in the middle when people are throwing,” Benninger said. “There’s a no man’s land and we have security guards that will gently escort you if you go in that area.”

Biery called it “madness in the middle,” and said people can usually be seen being tackled by security guards for running through.

“Everyone has to come out,” Biery said. “It’s going to be even bigger this year.”

Meet Benninger and Biery on Johnson Center Field Friday at 11:55 p.m.