Valley kiddos cool off with ‘Water War’

The children scramble into Laguna Madre Park in Port Isabel with their empty water guns Saturday morning to load up and grab water balloons — county and city law enforcement and first responders pelting them with water balloons and water guns from cover as they enter.

Watching from the sidelines as the children find the caches of water balloons and the large pool to load up on water, it feels like playing the “Main Theme” from the Clint Eastwood film ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” would reflect what is about to happen — wah-wahs, coyote sounds and all.

Once the children, and a number of children-at-hearts, have their water guns loaded and have grabbed fistfuls of water balloons, retribution against their assailants is swift, merciless and frequent—the Cameron County Constable for Pct. 1’s annual Water Wars have begun.

Natalia Hernandez Betancourt is gently water ballooned Saturday, July 30, 2022, during the Cameron County for Pct. 1 office’s annual Water Wars event at Laguna Madre Park in Port Isabel. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

This year is the event’s second year, organized by Cameron County Constable for Pct. 1 Norman Esquivel’s office each summer before the start of the school year.

The Cameron County Sheriff’s Office, Brownsville Police Department, Port Isabel Police Department, Cameron County Constable for Pct. 1 office and the Port Isabel Fire Department joined together to help run the event and keep the water balloons coming.

“What we do is start all the police officers and the first responders on one side and then all the kiddos on another side–and then we just start the good old war,” Esquivel said with a chuckle. He is from head to toe, soaked after just the first 30 minutes of playing with the group as the preferred target on the course.

With help from community members and two months of planning, the Cameron County Constable for Pct. 1 office organized more than 180 water guns, over 10,000 water balloons, inflatable bunkers, water slides, a dunking booth, food and other entertainment from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the free event.

In charge of providing the most vital component—the water— Port Isabel Fire Department kept their portable pool full and regularly sprayed an engine’s hose over the crowd to keep the fun going. They also made frequent appearances in the dunking tank.

“We try to make it fun for the kids. It’s very hot out, so it’s nice to make it cool while having fun,” Assistant Fire Chief for Port Isabel Fire Department Jarrod Martinez said.

At the event, and miraculously dry for being in the thick of things, mother Nancy Mendez enjoys seeing her six kids having a good time in the community after their recent move back to the area from Houston. Her children are big fans of the event’s water slides.

“It’s a good chance for the community to get together,” she said.

For Esquivel, the point of the event is to get children familiar with their local law enforcement and first responders in a fun way and make connections within the community.

“Everyone involved in this event is doing it from the heart, and we know it’s for a good reason,” he said.