Splash into new record


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 Garrett Wymer

As late Friday night turned into early Saturday morning, nearly 6,000 UK students and members of the Lexington community gathered on the Johnson Center Fields to take back what once was theirs.

The only casualties were 153,497 latex balloons.

Officially, 5,976 people participated in what was touted as—and, according to the Guinness World Records, what has become—the world’s largest water balloon fight.

The Christian Student Fellowship worked for months to fill up all the balloons for the fight, CSF director and campus minister Brian Marshall said.

“We even filled up an extra 70,000 balloons this past week,” he said.  “Once we get going, we could fill up several thousand in a day.”

But what took many months to prepare took mere minutes to destroy.

Between 19,000 and 22,000 water balloons each minute were reduced to scraps of rubber on the muddy grass.  There were nearly 26 balloons for every one participant in the fight.

Guys in bikini tops, people covered from head to toe in garbage bags, boys baring their chests in the breezy night air—even Gumby showed up for the opportunity to be part of the hulla-balloon.

In the back of the melee, voice performance freshman Chloe DePriest said she tried to stay dry, but to no avail—thanks to her friend.

“We were breaking them over each other’s head,” her friend Sarah Moore, a pre-physical therapy freshman, said.

One participant, pre-management freshman Jeff Trau, insisted the blue team won, based on the fact that “we’re not as wet as them.”

“We were in the very front, but I got wet mostly from friendly fire,” Trau said.

For many UK freshmen, it was the most memorable event of a busy K Week packed with different events each night.

Marshall attributed much of the water balloon fight’s success to the organization’s partnership with K Week.

“Partnering with Jared Tippets and K Week was great,” Marshall said, adding that the event’s promotion helped boost attendance.

But the water balloon fight was not just about reclaiming a world record.  For CSF, the event was about outreach without pressuring students, Marshall said—outreach by example.

“We say we want to live out and spell out the Christian life,” Marshall said.  “Living free and fun.”

The title of “World’s Largest Water Balloon Fight” has been part of an ongoing saga for UK and CSF, who sponsored the event for the third straight year.

Last year, 3,902 people threw 119,411 balloons, capturing the world record.  Since then, however, Utah’s Brigham Young University broke UK’s original record in July when 3,927 participants threw 120,232 balloons, prompting the fight on Friday night.

The Christian Student Fellowship at UK first attempted to break the record in 2008, but fell short by 110 participants.