Nothing screams summer like picnics and a good, old-fashioned water balloon fight in the park.

Families from all over Omaha were invited Sunday to Benson Park for Water Wars, a free event staged by Fathers in the Park. More than 500 water balloons, a pile of water blasters and some passing rain showers guaranteed that everyone would get at least a little wet.

“This is the third year that we’ve had Water Wars to give people a way to escape the heat,” said David Slaughter Jr., president of Fathers in the Park. “It’s an opportunity for us to give back to the community, and it’s not just for dads. Grandpa, grandma, aunts, uncles, moms . . . everyone who has a positive influence on the kids is welcome.”

The group’s next outing will be a bus trip to Vala’s Pumpkin Patch in Gretna on Oct. 5. To learn more go to www.fathersinthepark.com or find them on Facebook.

“Our outings are an opportunity to have time with our children,” Slaughter said. “We’re ready today for 200 to 300 people who want to have fun.”

The Water Wars event was held near the park’s playground and sprayground from noon to 4 p.m. It began with a lunch of grilled hot dogs, chips, cookies and pop. There were also kites to fly, hula hoops to twirl and touch football.

Each child received a ticket that gave him or her a chance to win gift bags stocked with snack packs and back-to-school items. The bags also contained toothbrushes, toothpaste and minor medical supplies.

The closing event was a battle royal with water balloons that were filled early in the morning and kept out of sight so as to not tempt the kids. Steve Brown and his adult son, Seth, were in charge of filling the balloons.

The elder Brown said he came prepared for to be a target in the water wars by wearing a T-shirt, shorts and old tennis shoes. It wasn’t long before Rebecca Berry, another club member, used a large water blaster to soak him.

“Everything that I’m wearing is quick dry so I am ready for it,” Brown said. “This park has nostalgia for a lot of us older folks. We came here a lot when we were kids and had this kind of fun. It’s special for me.”

Terrell Curry kept busy watching his three daughters, ages 2 through 6, take aim at one another with water blasters. The girls later took turns creating soap bubbles and popping them.

“This is really a good experience for them,” Curry said. “They’ve got things for all ages of children, too.”

Chakakan Spearman and her 11-year-old son, Javon, were having a good time helping set up the event.

“This park is a nice place,” Spearman said. “There’s football, kites ... whatever the kids could want when they come out here. It’s really important to give the community a place to get together and just be yourself with inexpensive activities.”

Javon was keeping an eye on the hot dogs and water balloon stash.

“It’s going to be fun,” he said.

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