Tom Ross: Consider leaving your Super Soaker Hydro Cannon at home until after Steamboat’s July 4 parade |

Tom Ross: Consider leaving your Super Soaker Hydro Cannon at home until after Steamboat’s July 4 parade

— As the Fourth of July approaches, the big question on the minds of Steamboatians and their guests is, “Will Thursday’s parade celebrating our nation’s independence be a dry affair? Or will this annual tradition devolve into a Super Soaker free-for-all in which neither man, woman nor child is safe from an unwanted spritzing.”

Wasn’t it Nathan Hale who famously said, “Give me liberty or get me wet?”

In case you overlooked it, Tom Wither, a lifetime Steamboat Pilot & Today reader and a member of an esteemed pioneer family penned a letter to the editor on June 6 deploring the increasing incidence of people riding on parade floats using Super Soaker squirt guns to douse spectators who don’t necessarily expect, or want, to get wet.

Wither’s letter, just six sentences long, drew a number of online comments, some of them leaning toward sarcasm and at least one agreeing with his stand.

“I spoke with many people who were either standing or seated near me, (at the 2012 parade) and all either left the parade very upset or complained about the excessive use of water hitting them and soaking their clothes,” Wither wrote.

Count me among those who agree with Wither. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with the subject, does it?

You can have my Super Soaker when you pry it from my cold, wet hands.

Seriously folks, I like to get wet as much as the next guy. I’ve been known to dunk myself in frigid mountain lakes and icy wilderness streams to shake off the sweat and dust of a backpacking trip. And on a recent desert raft trip, it was received as a blessing when a companion in the next raft used a water cannon to drench my long-sleeved sun shirt. The evaporative cooling shook me out of my afternoon doldrums.

But it feels different to have someone shower you with water when you aren’t ready for it and aren’t dressed for it. In fact, it can feel like aggression. If I brought my 85-year-old mother to Steamboat’s Fourth of July parade and someone on a float blasted her with a Super Soaker, I would let them know that I disapproved. And if they drenched my Nikon, I’d be truly peeved.

When I started looking closely at Hasbro’s Super Soakers and the current state of the art in what we formerly called squirt guns, it was eye-opening. The company now makes the Nerf Super Soaker Hydro Cannon that costs $80. And you can shop for the Super Soaker Lightning Storm that holds as much as 25 ounces of water and fires as far as 30 feet. Or get yourself the Nerf Super Soaker Arctic Shock and fill the attached ice drum to drench your victims with a freezing blast!

Most surprising of all is that when you shop for Super Soakers on, the Web vendor also offers you recirculating aquarium pumps that begin at $150 and can cost twice that amount. That might be taking the whole Super Soaker craze just a little too far.

One of my colleagues pointed out to me that becoming the victim of a Super Soaker attack at the Fourth of July Parade can get you dirty. When the stream of water from a Super Soaker hits the pavement before splattering onlookers seated on the curb, it also spatters their clothes with street grime, he said.

Nobody wants to have to go home and change clothes before the ice cream social, right?

So I’m leaving it up to the grown-ups to keep the parade dry. There is at least one adult accompanying every float, and it should be their responsibility to shut down Super Soakers during the parade.

If everyone wants to adjourn to a city park afterward to get wet, count me in.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email

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