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Water Wars: Competition kicks off Legends & Logging Days

Dan Pike runs the nozzle as Edward Jones teammate Colter Diekmann holds the hose as they take on Grandpa Andy's Angels in an epic first round Water Wars battle.1 / 10
Team Walmart battles Itasca-Mantrap in the second round of Water Wars as a rainbow forms over Main downtown Thursday evening. (Photos by Kevin Cederstrom/Enterprise) 2 / 10
The Citizens National Bank team of Jason Funk, Jason McCollum, Kyle Johnson, and Rilee Johnson battle against Itasca-Mantrap. Citizens placed second at this year's Water Wars competition.3 / 10
Grandpa Andy's Angels celebrate after winning a 9 minute, 38 second battle against Edward Jones in the first round.4 / 10
Children scramble to gather up taffy shot from a candy cannon prior to the start of Water Wars on Thursday.5 / 10
The Park Rapids Fire Department team consisting of Kyle Little, Luke Luther, Chad Grande, Andy Trudeau and Steve Safratowich.6 / 10
Chris Bungert of Itasca-Mantrap concentrates on keeping a steady stream on the barrel.7 / 10
The team of firefighters wives use extra protective gear during their first round Water Wars battle.8 / 10
Grandpa Andy's Angels, from front, Riley Cannon, Clayton Gallus, Jack Herman, Chantz DeWinter and Zack Severtson.9 / 10
Haley Hotakainen, Elena Niemela, Maia Shepersky, Kila Page, and Megan Viton push forward through falling water during the competition.10 / 10

The Loony Traveling Trophy is back in the firehouse for the first time since 2011.

The Park Rapids firefighters defeated the Citizens National Bank men's team to win the 2017 Water Wars title. After a six-year dry spell without winning this event, which puts fire hoses in the hands of opposing teams spraying water on an empty keg hanging on a cable above Main in downtown Park Rapids.

Given their expertise and training on fire hoses, one may argue the firefighters carry a competitive advantage but that hasn't resulted in wins the last few years. Citizens won the event last year, Charlie's Boats & Marine in 2015 and Northwoods Bank was the champion in 2013 and 2014. The firefighters wives won in 2012.

Park Rapids firefighter Steve Safratowich from this year's winning team said their strategy was simple on their road to the title of Water Wars champions.

"Aim the nozzle straight and hit the barrel," he said. "Keep it on the barrel and try to keep it from spinning."

When asked if the six-year dry spell had been discussed at the fire hall, Safratowich measured his words carefully.

"Nope."

Safratowich, a veteran of the event, says they have fun with the event each year.

"It's good community relations."

The fire department defeated Essentia Health in the first round, then Charlie's Boats & Marine, and Grandpa Andy's Angels, before taking down Citizens for the title. Citizens advanced to the championship by beating Brau Haus, Essentia Guns 'N Hoses and Itasca-Mantrap.

The match-up of the night came in the first round when Grandpa Andy's Angels took on Edward Jones. The epic battle lasted 9 minutes and 38 seconds. Edward Jones got within inches of winning early in the bout before Grandpa Andy's Angels, consisting of a group of Park Rapids teenagers, pushed on to victory.

Butch DeLaHunt, director of the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, was the event announcer and entertained the spectators. Water Wars was delayed for a short time as rain rolled through town but the clouds parted and the sun came out to make for a near perfect evening.

"We had a real nice crowd who hung in there with the weather. The candy cannon was a blast," he said.

Water Wars was followed by 2nd Street Stage and kicked off Legends & Logging which continues through Saturday.

"Being able to combine 2nd Street Stage is a great idea. People can enjoy themselves at Water Wars then just keep going right here with 2nd Street Stage."

New to this year's Legends & Logging is the Lumberjack/Jill Challenge at noon this Saturday. The Run to the Rapids classic car show also takes place Saturday in downtown Park Rapids.

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