Revelers got a wet surprise at plaza

Sprinklers came on after midnight, wetting some people

Published: Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 10:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 10:08 p.m.

As a funk band played on the Bo Diddley Community Plaza just after midnight Sunday, ringing in the new year, revelers thought the only sprinkler they would encounter would be a tired dance move.

Not so.

At some point around midnight, the sprinklers started on the raised areas around the plaza, where people attending the city's Downtown Countdown were watching the band Fastlane perform on the stage.

One of the sprinkler heads quickly was covered with a bucket and others covered with trash can covers as the water continued gushing, making puddles on the sidewalks and mud on the grass.

At about 12:25 a.m., sprinklers started spraying on the previously dry planter on the east side of the plaza, spraying a few people as well as lawn chairs others abandoned in order to dance. Two girls who didn't realize the sprinklers were on quickly found out when one oscillated to their direction.

Steve Phillips, the director of the city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, which hosted the event, didn't return messages Sunday.

One commenter on the online version of The Sun's story about New Year's Eve festivities noted the incident, saying the city lost out on tax revenue after the sprinklers ran off potential shoppers.

“The city turned a wonderful night into a wet miserable experience,” the online commenter said. “Older folk were drenched with torrents of water from the sprinklers and young ones had to run.”

After the band finished its set at 12:30 a.m., one of the singers told the crowd: “We love you, Gainesville. I know some of you got wet out there.”

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