By: Mary of Montevale, Reporter
There was at least one location at Pennsic on Wednesday where more water and more mud were very welcome — in fact they were encouraged. The Children’s Water Battle at the fort brought out about 400 youth and nearly that many parents, older siblings, and adult volunteers to provide support and a cheering section.
A beloved tradition for families at the War, the Water Battle is organized by members of Shadowclans, Black Talon, and — I’m not sure someone wasn’t pulling my leg on this one—a group known as Shattered Nerves. The Coopers also provide an ammunition source in the form of their big water tank truck, which certainly was available since the last thing the roads through the site needed on Wednesday was additional water.
A lady fighter from Black Talon named Sunshine was prepared with tabard and loud whistle to do her share of marshaling for the hour. She told me the addition of the water tank truck is one of the greatest things that has happened to ensure the success of the battle. Additionally, the sponsoring groups prepare hundreds of water balloons which are brought out in large tubs. Many families also bring their own water balloons. Would-be combatants must bring their own water pistols.
The most successful weapons look to be the big “super soaker” pump-action water guns and the water “lances” (which are a great value at $1 apiece and available at many dollar stores). But almost anything that can shoot out a stream of cold water will work, and being hit by the cold water feels pretty darned good on a hot, sunny August afternoon.
Participants on both the attacking and defending sides know that taunting your enemy is required. Younger water pistol wielders also rely on support and encouragement from parents and siblings. Dads make fantastic war horses. One such noble steed was Sir Olaf (Æthelmearc) who had his 2-year old son riding high on his shoulders. I am not sure which of the two was having more fun. Other dads became technical support as weapons began to jam or otherwise malfunction.
Soon the gate area into the center area of the castle began to resemble one of the parking lot roads earlier in the day: mud, mud, more mud, and treacherous footing. But when you’re seven or ten and you’re already wet, it just becomes another part of the fun. And then there were the small unit forays—around the side of the castle instead of through the gate in hopes of finding an unguarded sally port; a rear guard action up to the rope barricades protecting the adults in the castle towers in order to reach one’s weapon through the ropes and soak a grownup anyway.
At the end there were bags of candy for all participants (long lines) provided by the sponsor groups, a water slide behind the castle primed with soapy water, and young men who found there was still water in the supply tubs which had to mean the fighting wasn’t really over. Plus a damp newspaper reporter with an even damper reporter’s notebook. A good afternoon, a good battle.