Third annual Big Splash Bash cut short due to lightning and prolonged rain

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Molly DeRusha enjoys a hamburger under a ramada during the third annual Big Splash Bash as the rain comes down around her.

By Jon Johnson

PIMA – The Pima Fire Department’s end of summer celebration, the Big Splash Bash, is usually the topper for the summer swim season at the Pima Pool. However, this year Mother Nature had different plans and the well-attended event was cut short due to extreme weather.

“We were hoping we would escape the rain and have it come in after, but we had a good hour of swimming and burger sales before the rain got here,” said Pima Fire Chief Scott Howell. 

Jon Johnson Video/Gila Herald

The third annual Big Splash Bash got off to a great start Saturday, with emergency vehicles – including a LifeNet helicopter – on display and those in attendance enjoying the hamburgers and hotdogs grilled by fire department members under cool, cloudy conditions. 

Just as most of those in attendance began to utilize the free pool admission around 6 p.m., however, a storm appeared on the horizon, which forced the LifeNet crew to launch before being grounded in the parking lot. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: A woman helps a child get out of the rain during the third annual Big Splash Bash.

Lightning first closed the pool, as attendees were ushered away from the water and out of the facility. Some stuck around in the park for a bit to play and enjoy some more food, but then the rain came down and the deluge forced a quick evacuation back to the Pima Fire Department, where members continued the food sale.

Despite the setback, Howell said the event will return next year with the hope of bringing it back to its former glory. 

“It’s a good event for the community,” Howell said. “It’s a good event for us to come and interact with the community and it raises a little bit of money for the fire department to get some extra equipment that we need. We’re definitely going to keep it an annual event.”

T-shirts and other items are still available for purchase at the Pima Fire Department.