by Nicole Brodzik
It’s been a Mound Fire and Orono Police Department tradition for years, and this year it’s getting new life thanks to Orono Police Deputy Chris Fischer and the Spirit of the Lakes Festival. The second annual Guns vs. Hoses charity softball game will take place on Wednesday, July 19 at WRA Park in Minnetrista.
Last year was the first time the annual softball outing was open to the public as a charity event. Attendees were asked to bring donations for the Western Communities Action Network (WeCAN). The departments are again asking for both non perishable food and monetary donations this time around.
This year, however, there are new ways to help the charity organization that Fischer thinks might be a little more fun.
“We’ve got a dunk tank this year,” Fischer said. “It’ll probably be about $1 for three balls. We’ve got Westonka Superintendent Kevin Borg, Orono Police Chief Correy Farniok and Mound City Administrator Eric Hoversten signed up to be in the tank.”
The dunk tank will be going on during the game, and between throws, families can enjoy free face painting and bounce house that will be on site. There will also be photo opportunities with police cars, fire trucks and the fire and police mascots throughout the game.
Before the game begins, the annual Spirit of the Lakes kiddie parade will be taking place at WRA Park at 6 p.m. All families are welcome to attend and stay for the game afterwards, which starts at 7 p.m.
“It’s really becoming a more family friendly event,” Fire Chief Greg Pederson said.
Fischer said he sees the game as a way for people to get to know their local law enforce ment and see them as community members.
“This is a small town community,” Fischer said. “It’s important to get to know one another. The better our relationships with the public, the better job we can do for them.”
Last year, the Mound Fire Department took the game by a score of 21-2. This year, Fire Chief Greg Pederson said his firefighters are ready to take back to back titles, but Fischer said it’s all just for fun.
“The firefighters seem to take it more seriously,” Fischer said. “It’s just a fun night for us to build camaraderie between the departments and play some softball.”
“They only say that because we smoked them,” Pederson said. “The police and fire actually get along really well, but we have to win.”
Pederson admitted that this crew does have more experience as they play in a Thursday night league during summers, where Mound fire has taken the championship two years in a row. This year, the Orono Police Department will be getting more backup from Minnetrista police as Fischer said they made a better effort to get that department involved earlier in the planning process.
“They’re apart of our community too and we wanted to make sure we could get them involved earlier this time around,” Fischer said.
Pederson is asking for attendees to wear the colors of the team they’re choosing to support in the game, with red for the fire and blue for police. He also said there will be an ambulance standing by in case of emergencies, but partly as preparation for any police officers getting hurt in the game.
The event is being sponsored by Surfside Bar and Grill, Maund Entertainment, Colin Charlson State Farm, Tonka Auto and Marine, Island Park Skelly Auto and Marine, Oak Ridge Kennels, The Right Realtors ReMax Advantage Plus, Woody Balut’s Edward Jones, Westonka Community and Commerce (WCC), Jubilee Foods, Minnesota Lakes Bank and Wells Fargo.