Deep Ellumites Engaged In Water Balloon Warfare On Sunday Afternoon As A Way To Combat Suicide And Depression Among Dallas Creatives.
All photos by Allan Hayslip.
Despite the near-certainty of torrential rain, late summer oppressive mugginess and probably some pretty serious hangovers, several hundred attendees tore themselves away from ongoing coverage of Saturday’s unfolding Hurricane Harvey disasters along the Texas coast to, well, get wet.
They joined some two dozen volunteers and staff, as well as generous variety of Deep Ellum vendors and sponsors, for the first recurrence of the annual Deep Ellum Water Balloon Wars in the parking lot behind Trees. The event benefited Foundation 45, an organization dedicated to addressing depression and suicide awareness and prevention, particularly among the local music community.
Nearly 20,000 balloons were filled with water from custom-built and plumbed stations, then loaded into brand-new plastic crates before the event’s noon opening time. The blue-shirted volunteers continually filled balloons for the rest of the afternoon, taking only a few breaks for adult beverages provided by the Trees staff or mini-burgers from the Easy Slider Truck. Meanwhile, other volunteers kept the two crowd-favorite inflatable water-slides aired-up and slick with water while also managing two dunking tanks.
If anyone on hand hadn’t attended the event before and held preconceived notions of small gangs of millennials running through the streets of the neighborhood while ambushing fellow combatants (and hopefully not many brunch-goers and panhandlers) with a hail of water balloons on the patios of bars or walking past tattoo parlors, well, they were disappointed. There was little chance of one of the neighborhood’s party bikes, for example, getting surrounded and drenched in a multi-colored carpet-bombing, no matter how satisfying that might be to some neighborhood curmudgeons.
Really, this affair was fairly orderly, contained within chain-link fences, with entrances secured by seasoned Trees security personnel and watched over by cheerful crew of off-duty DPD officers enjoying the mixed blessing of doing their extra patrol in the daylight for once.
At four different points throughout the afternoon, a dozen or so kiddie pools were evenly spread on either side of the designated “war” area and filled with water balloons. Balloon warriors then arrayed themselves on one side of the battlefield or another, loaded their first few balloons into their hands and arms and, at the signal of one of the organizers, they let loose a paroxysm of water balloons at each other in the course of just a couple of minutes. Once the balloons were gone, participants gleefully turned on each other with water pistols and even the remaining water the kiddie pools.
Eventually, though, the promised torrents of rain arrived, sending a few attendees home and leaving others to carry the onsite gear that needed protection to the cover of tents. But since almost everyone was already wet and many were prepared for it, many in the crowd stayed out in the rain, enjoying the water slides or even just a continuing soak in the pool as things cooled down a little.
After a little while, the skies brightened enough to send everyone back out from under cover, and the afternoon would down with some local dignitaries — among them city council members and deputy Dallas Police chiefs — taking turns as targets in the dunking tanks.
As some of the cops on hand gleefully headed over dunk their superiors, Anthony Delabano — one of the spiritual forces behind the event and the lone surviving band member of Spector 45, which saw its members Frankie Campagna and Adam Carter commit suicide within 80 days of one another a few years ago and prompted the establishment of Foundation 45 — looked on at all of the activity.