tampabay.com

All's fair in Water Wars

By JUSTIN GEORGE
Published April 6, 2007


Emily Daniels is a cellist in the Plant High School orchestra. Come fall, she'll study art at the University of Central Florida.

Anne Krikorian is a violinist, headed to Swarthmore College to study biomedical engineering.

But in the meantime they are killers. They conspire to gun down classmates in Water Wars, an annual senior tradition that takes a squirt gun fight to Tampa streets. Over the last two weeks, teens have been spotted all over South Tampa jumping out of trash cans, setting up predawn stakeouts, burying themselves in bushes, marching down sidewalks armed with day glow water cannons like a gang of street toughs.

The game, which began March 26 and ends at midnight Saturday, splits 290 seniors into teams of 10 with clever names that reflect their makeup.

Team Drama, of course, includes members of the drama team. OrchDorks - Daniels and Krikorian's team - is for the musically inclined.

And "8 1/2 Girls and an Asian" is self-explanatory, well, somewhat.

Get shot, you're out. Players relinquish their wristbands to their killers. Teams earn points for every hit and lose points for members lost.

Water Wars started four years ago. It's not school sanctioned, so it's fought outside Plant, which bans water guns. The game has its own Facebook page with listed rules. The Web site, a today's generation advancement, helped triple this year's participation compared with last year, organizers said.

The game has resorted to all sorts of cloak and dagger dealings and desperate measures that even forced teens to talk to their elders.

One student was killed coming out of the shower, thanks to an ignorant parent who let in a classmate.

Ever since, teens have put relatives on watch.

The mother of senior class president and co-Water Wars organizer Josh "Presidential Water Master" Albert was suspicious when a reporter asked about her son. "Are you really a reporter, or someone who wants to squirt him?"

Justin George can be reached at 813 226-3368 or jgeorge@sptimes.com.