July 26, 2008

Hoping for a Wet, Wild Market Square Water Balloon Fight

By Adam Brandolph, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Jul. 26--Cleo Zell stretched the end of a water balloon, wrapped it around her index and middle fingers and tied a knot.

Zell, 30, of Lawrenceville is looking for a fight -- a water balloon fight.

She and volunteers plan to have 10,000 water balloons armed and ready for the second annual Market Square Water Balloon Fight this afternoon.

"It's a crazy idea that we hope brings communities together," said Zell, co-founder of Picnic!, a group that aims to attract entertainment to the region. Picnic! was responsible for bringing a pillow fight to Arco Park in Lawrenceville in April.

"We want to give people a fun, unique and exciting time, to bring them into Market Square and show them what it has to offer," Zell said.

More than 500 people are expected to converge on Market Square, where a half-dozen businesses have opened in the past year.

Last year's splash drew 350 people who tossed roughly 8,000 balloons. The fight was over in less than five minutes.

It's a spectacle that Carnegie Mellon graduate student Sean Green, 33, wants to see firsthand.

"I wasn't able to make it last year, so I just want to see it," he said.

It's not that a balloon fight is a novel idea, said Kathleen Zawrotniak, program and events manager with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, which is helping to organize the event.

"What makes this special is that you can do this in the middle of some of the city's oldest brick buildings," she said. "That adds a unique element."

Half of Market Square will be sectioned off as the "splash zone," where participants can chuck the water bombs while listening to bands. The children's fight begins at 4 p.m., followed by the adult battle.

Hope Freedman, 49, of Point Breeze decided to volunteer to fill balloons because she said the success of the city depends on small programs that people will remember.

"We need more events like this," she said. "It's important to get out and have a good time and show people how much fun this city is."


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