Marian Days Tradition Makes A Big Splash

Carthage Police engage in some wet fun with visitors

CARTHAGE, Mo. -- The population of Carthage, Missouri is booming this weekend, with the annual Marian Days reunion for Vietnamese Catholics. 

Marian Days is full of traditions, but one fairly new tradition is creating a big splash. 

Estimated to be the largest North American religious pilgrimage, the Carthage Convention and Visitor's Bureau says the town's population will swell from 14,500 to an estimated 60-80,000 people this weekend.

In addition to religious ceremonies and family reunions, the food and fun bring many back year after year.  Now a new tradition is popping up.

"They've been waiting for you guys all day yesterday! And I'm ready! Can you come back later?" laughed visitor Da Tho. "This is the first year I've noticed the police play with the kids with the guns and you guys passed out the water gun, which amazed me. I was like, 'Oh wow! You're actually involved with the kids!'"

A small water gun fight.

"A couple of years ago, the detectives kind of started a little water fight with the kids," explained Carthage Police Chief Greg Dagnan.

Turned into an all-out water war. 

"It seemed like when we only had squirt guns, they had water balloons. We decided we want water balloons and they went to Walmart and bought buckets," added Carthage Community Relations Officer Chad Dininger.

"Some kid squirts one of our detectives with a water gun, so he goes and gets a bigger water gun, and then they get a bucket of water, and it just kind of went that way. So now, it really is a tradition we've been doing for a couple of years now," Dagnan explained.

Carthage police, with the help of the Food Truck Friday Committee, provide water guns and balloons, while families and friends of Marian Days provide the fun.

"Kids love it, we love it, so it's awesome," said Dagnan.

"I get soaked with the water even though I didn't play against them," Tho continued. "I just cheer for them and they shoot me with the water gun. I need a bigger gun if you'll give me one!"

"I'll tell you one of the guys told me yesterday--the blue and white golf cart they were out on--They were like, "That seems really fast, but it is not faster than a ten-year-old Vietnamese girl with a bucket of water,'" said Dagnan.

"We attempted to go have a water gun fight with them and we lost," Dininger added.

The Carthage police might lose the water wars, but they win at something more important.

"When I get out there and I start speaking to them, and building that relationship that maybe not for this Marian Days, but the following Marian Days, if they come, they have somebody that they can come and contact. Somebody they can come to if they have issues or problems," explained Dininger.

"I think we lose the water war, but I think we win in the long run, because obviously the kids have a great interaction with the police," said Dagnan.

Events for Marian Days end on Sunday and officers will be out there with water guns when they are available.


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