Take the best smarts the University of Kentucky students have to offer: engineering savvy, massive organizational skills, extreme marketing, amazing manual dexterity. Then harness all that to create ... the biggest water balloon fight in the world.
At 11:55 p.m. Friday on Johnson Field, UK's Christian Student Fellowship will attempt to break its own world record of throwing 175,000 water balloons. Organizers hope for between 12,000 and 14,000 participants, and everyone is welcome.
"It lets people on campus know about us," said Wes Benninger, a staffer at the increasingly soggy CSF headquarters. "Mainly it represents the life of Jesus — he was about having a good time."
On Tuesday, a host of volunteers were filling water balloons at two stations outside the CSF building. The intricate stations — taken from a design on the Internet — feature spigots and tiny faucets, each small enough to fit inside the neck of a balloon. A small stick with a slot on the end allowed the filler to tie a knot without getting finger cramps.
Each student worked on a trash bag of 50 balloons. So far, the students had filled about 80,000, but it will take many more hours to fill the goal of 200,000.
But trash bags of water balloons won't be enough to meet the exacting standards of Guinness World Records. Each balloon must be counted individually before being placed on tarps on the field Friday night.
As the counting takes place, a phalanx of security guards will make sure the fight doesn't start early. (Don't bother to bring your own balloons. They won't be accepted, because someone brought a bag of balloons filled with vinegar a few years back.)
The fight doesn't last more than 10 very wet minutes, but it's worth all the trouble, said Nathan Allison, who called it "one of the most memorable experiences of my life. It's just such a rush."
For those who would scoff at the undertaking, Benninger has answers ready for almost any criticism after 10 years of the event.
Wasted water? Johnson Field doesn't need watering for a few days after the fight, and the CSF's water bill goes up by only about $100, he said. Plus, the CSF supports a well-digging organization in Africa.
Why not put all this energy to something more constructive? CSF does a lot of constructive things, Benninger said, including helping the poor, but "for freshmen, it's a lot easier to get them to notice us with this event than to do something more constructive."
The YouTube video of last year's balloon fight has been viewed nearly 1 million times.
The fight appeals to something elemental in people, which is why Benninger doesn't think there'll be any trouble breaking the record again.
"It's chaos," he said. "There's something inside people that wants to go crazy."