Grand Haven team takes home Waterball trophy

Becky Vargo • Aug 1, 2019 at 10:00 AM

There was smoke but no fire, and the fourth annual Coast Guard Festival Waterball Tournament went on to completion after a radiator hose blew on the fire truck pumping water for the event.

The incident forced a rematch between the Spring Lake Township and Grand Haven Department of Public Safety teams, with the city squad eventually floating away with the life ring Waterball trophy Wednesday evening.

Grand Haven Township Fire Rescue ended up in second place, with Ferrysburg taking third. The top finisher representing the U.S. Coast Guard, the Coast Guard Reserves, “took up the slack” for the four Coastie teams in the event, fighting for a fourth-place finish despite having no experience.

Also participating were the Robinson Township Fire Department, Coast Guard Station Grand Haven, and teams from the Coast Guard ships Buckthorn and Katmai Bay.

Grand Haven Public Safety Chief Jeff Hawke said all of the fire departments that help during fireworks night on Dewey Hill are invited to participate in the tournament. All of the Coast Guard units are also invited.

“We have a friendly competition,” Hawke said, explaining that waterball is basically like a tug of war, only with hoses.

Two teams of three face off and try to push a metal keg with water to hit the other team’s pole within 60 seconds. If that doesn’t happen, the team that pushes the keg past the centerline wins the contest.

“It’s always great to have the hometown guys and gals bring home the trophy,” Hawke said.

But he noted that it was great to get the crews together.

“It strengthens our relationship and it’s family friendly, as is the whole festival,” Hawke said.

The radiator hose blew on a 1982 pumper that the Grand Haven department is hoping to replace in the next year. It had to be towed from the scene. Another fire truck was brought in from the department two blocks away so the competition could be completed.

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