Traditional water fights have been waged by young and old at the Coalinga Horned Toad Derby for decades. It happens on Monday mornings, the last day of Derby each year.
One year, when the fights were called off because of a drought, Coalinga came up with the water and pumping trucks to make it happen. Granite Construction even donated water and arranged to have another company truck it in.
The water fights were back laast year after a hiatus during the last drought. And the good news is: THEY WILL BE HERE AGAIN THIS YEAR!!
Water fights have two teams of five; each holding a fire hose on opposite ends of a suspended empty barrel. The teams shoot water from a fire hose at the barrel trying to push it to the side away from their team. The barrel hangs from a cable and is shoved by the spraying water to one side or the other. A winner is declared when the barrel reaches the opposing team’s end of the cable.
Everyone gets wet, and in the hot days of May, that’s a good thing. There is a fire fighter ready to assist each team if there is a problem. There are often dozens of teams participating.
“Any five people can form a team,” said Ruben Veliz, a Coalinga fire fighter. Veliz conceded that the fire department does not sponsor a team, noting with a laugh that it would not be a fair fight.
Members must be at least 14 years old, and the nozzle man must be at least 18 years old. There is a fee of $5 per participant. Prices for contestants are higher if the application is turned on at the Derby. Team applications can be picked up at Coalinga’s fire department at 300 Elm Avenue.
The funds generated from the water fights go to the Jonathan Terra Scholarship Fund. The fund was started several years ago when Terra, one of Coalinga’s own fire fighters, passed away, leaving a young family. Each year, a student from Coalinga High School is awarded a scholarship. Some years two students may be recipients depending on the amount of funds in the account.