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Repair of Balboa Park damage from squirt-gun fight almost done

August 20, 2012 |  4:13 pm

Repair of damage to Balboa Park from squirt-gun fight almost done

Damage done to iconic parts of Balboa Park from a squirt-gun fight gone wild has nearly been repaired, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders announced Monday.

The park's lily pond and the nearby North/Plaza de Panama fountain sustained $19,000 in damage from youthful revelers who had responded to an Internet posting about the "second annual water gun fight" at the park. Most of the repairs will be finished by Wednesday, Sanders said.

The damage horrified many San Diego residents. The lily pond, one of the most photographed parts of Balboa Park, dates from the 1915 Panama-California Exposition held at the park. During World War I, the pond was used to teach sailors to swim.

The nonprofit Friends of Balboa Park has raised $13,000 and is confident it can raise the remaining $6,000 for the repairs, Sanders said. Also, Progressive Grower Inc., a private plant company, has donated $1,000.

"The inexcusable vandalism that took place showed an utter disregard for a community treasure," the mayor said in a statement, "but our parks department, local nonprofit organizations and individual donors are showing what San Diego is really made of."

During the melee in the early hours of Aug. 12, vegetation was trampled, koi and turtles in the pond were harassed, submerged planters were damaged and a drainage pipe was broken.

The post-midnight activity was supposed to take place at a fountain near the Natural History Museum. But when revelers found that the fountain had been drained for repairs, the crowd surged to the lily pond.

The San Diego Police Department is investigating the incident. No arrests have been made. The water fight was advertised as part of a weeklong celebration in the gay community known as "pride lite."

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Vegetation near the lily pond after the water-gun fight. Credit: John Gibbins / UT-San Diego

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