Kaethe O. Maguire of Goose Point Lane, who has lived in Sandwich for more than 30 years, remembers when the traditional Fourth of July parade consisted mostly of children riding their decorated bikes through the center of town.
“It was mostly about the children,” she said.
Since then, the parade has evolved into something much bigger, which now includes elaborate floats, classic automobiles and high school singing groups.
Somewhere along the way, squirt guns became a part of the parade.
Initially, only small water toys were used.
In recent years, however, Ms. Maguire said these water fights have “gotten out of control,” with children, teenagers and even adults getting in on the wet and wild action. And they are not just using tiny water guns. They are using large “super soaker” devices that can really pack a wallop.
Two years ago, I saw participants on a float spraying the crowd. They hit an elderly woman who was sitting in the shade, directly across from me, square in the face.
“Two years ago, I saw participants on a float spraying the crowd. They hit an elderly woman who was sitting in the shade, directly across from me, square in the face,” she said.
Ms. Maguire said one year she saw a 2-year-old boy knocked off his scooter after being sprayed by a powerful water gun. She said another family, with a small girl who was sitting with her father, was completely soaked by a parade participant using one of the powerful spray toys.
“The whole family got soaked and the mother’s camera was ruined,” she said.
“I’m not being a stiff, but I don’t think white-haired old ladies and small children should have to be subjected to this,” she said.
But it is not just the parade participants who are using the water equipment. Spectators in the crowd are shooting right back, using everything from water guns to lawn hoses to water-filled balloons.
And not every participant who enters a float in the parade wants to be a part of the water fights.
Recreation Director Guy J. Boucher said even though there were signs on some of the floats last year asking that the crowd not spray the floats because of electronics and electrical equipment that could be damaged, some of these requests were ignored.
Mr. Boucher has had enough. Before someone gets seriously hurt and before there is any expensive property damage, he is endeavoring to put the kibosh on the water fights this year. “I have told everyone who is registering to be in the parade that water sprayed into the crowd is not allowed. And I am pleading with the public to respect this policy, so that the parade is enjoyable for everyone,” he said.
Mr. Boucher said it is not his intention to take away the fun from the parade, but the water fights are getting out of hand.
“If people want to get wet, they can go the fireman’s muster, which is scheduled after the parade. That’s the time for the water fun,” he said.
Neal A. Pratt of Chase Road applauded the recreation director’s decision. “That’s really good news,” he said.
Last year, Mr. Pratt, who, with his wife, was riding his bike home after the parade ended, was soaked by a youngster with a water gun.
After enduring the unwanted soaking, Mr. Pratt thought last year’s parade would be his last, but with the new policy this year, he is not so sure. “I was not planning to attend this year’s parade because of what happened last year. But now that the announcement has been made banning the water, I would have no hesitation about attending,” he said.
Ms. Maguire also applauded the new policy and said it will not take long for people to catch on that the water fights are no longer a part of the parade. “It’ll only take one parade for people to learn,” she said.