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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

About 200 people turned out to the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Saturday afternoon to cool off for the first annual Beat the Heat Water Day with First Responders.

The event was organized by the Youth and Community Resource Unit of the Alachua Sheriff’s Office, which creates a variety of community programs throughout the year.

Sergeant Paul Pardue, who runs the Youth and Community Resource Unit, said they try to hold as many community events as they can, and last year they held 64 total events. The event offered a variety of water-based events for children including water balloon fights, a dunk tank, a relay race and more. There was also a cookout with hamburgers and hotdogs as well as frozen treats and music.


Ja’Keil Norris, 5, runs away from the firetruck hose while carrying two water balloons Saturday during Beat the Heat Water Day.

The event featured kids-versus-cops water balloon battles along with blasts of water from the deck gun of a fire truck, which was advertised as “the world’s largest sprinkler”. Firefighters atop the firetruck would spray water over the children about every ten minutes.


Louis Derousie, 31, sprays water from the deck gun of a fire truck over a group of playing children in the grass lot of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office. Derousie, a firefighter paramedic who was awarded Firefighter of the Year, used a fog nozzle on the deck gun to break the water into small droplets so that it would not spray too hard on the children.

“It’s always been on my bucket list to use it,” Derousie said of the deck gun. “It’s nice to have fun with it.” 



Dealijah Seay, 12, winds up to throw a water balloon Saturday during one of the kids-versus-cops water balloon battles. The battle featured children and deputies facing off on opposite sides of the grass lot and racing to a line of three inflatable pools filled with water balloons in the middle between them.

Dealijah said he hit at least 14 or 15 people during the last water balloon battle, getting all of the cops and some of the kids too. Even though the kids were technically on his team, Dealijah shrugged and said “I was throwing at whoever I saw."


A Gainesville Police Explorer stealthily hands a water balloon to a Gainesville police officer in anticipation for one of the kids-versus-cops water balloon fights. Both teams were supposed to start with no balloons and race to the supplies of water balloons in the middle of the battlefield, but some of the officers were sneaking balloons before the battle started.


Kalvin Fort, 14, pours a bucket of water on his 3-year-old sister Mae’lisha Watts.

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