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Guns-n-Hoses: Rivalries heat up

Superior firefighter Dan Sertich takes a swing at the ball during practice July 6 at Tim Wicklund Memorial Field in Billings Park. Superior police and firefighters swing into action during the second annual Guns-N-Hoses softball game July 21 to kick off South End Days. Maria Lockwood

Two friendly rivalries heat up as South End Days begins July 21.

One takes place on the field, when the Superior Fire Department faces off against the Superior Police Department.

The firefighters walked away with last year's inaugural Guns-n-Hoses softball title. As South End Days head organizer Kalee Hermanson remembers it, the score was 20 to 10.

"We did better than winning, we smoked 'em," said firefighter Dan Sertich.

Eyeing up the "young bucks" who have joined the police force over the last year, fire department members met for a quick practice last week.

"We're not worried, we're just going to be prepared," Sertich said.

The firefighters are also smarting from a January Guns-n-Hoses hockey game loss to the cops, 4-6, during the Lake Superior Ice Festival.

"We kind of made up for it in hockey," said Superior Police Officer Tyler Rude. "Softball didn't go too well."

He said the fire department has quite a few young bucks of its own, so the police will have to bring their A-game. The officers aim to stage a practice or two prior to the softball showdown, if schedules allow.

"It's all in good fun, but it's more rewarding when we can win," Rude said.

The game begins at 5:30 p.m. July 21 at the 58th Street Ball Fields following a day of neighborhood rummage sales. The free event includes food vendors, a dizzy bat contest highlighting Mentor Superior and a fundraiser for revitalizing the Clarence Benson Park in the village of Superior.

"Don't even think about eating dinner, just come on down," Hermanson said.

Rude credited South End Days organizers for putting together an event that's fun for all, whether they live in South End or not.

"What Kalee has going on with Guns-n-Hoses is awesome," said 8th District City Councilor Craig Sutherland. "That's what we need in our community."

Rude said Guns-n-Hoses events give members of the public a chance to see police and firefighters as human beings, having fun.

"We enjoy doing the same things everybody else does," the officer said.

Hermanson encouraged visitors to pack the stands at the softball game to show their support for officers and firefighters. The players, for their part, plan to pepper the event with surprises and pranks.

"They're going to get a sense of fun camaraderie," Sertich said. "That's what the community is all about, bringing people together."

The second rivalry of the night sparks between emcees Hermanson and Sutherland, an organizer of Billings Park Days.

The two friends are embroiled in an escalating prank battle over which neighborhood celebration is tops — South End Days, which takes place July 21-22, or Billings Park Days, slated for Aug. 4-5.

Their various hijinks have been posted on Facebook, ranging from a Billings Park Days sign that was posted in Webster Park to a slew of South End Days T-shirts that were prominently placed in Sutherland's car.

Both events have a similar aim.

"Our mission is to keep it a free event for everyone," Hermanson said.

And both focus on neighborhood pride.

"This sparks a chain reaction," Sutherland said. "It helps you get out and get to know your neighbors, and not only that, get to know your community."

Such events can offer a boost for local businesses, as well.

Following the softball game, Tavern 105 hosts a street dance featuring My Famous Friends.

On July 22, Webster Park will be transformed. Beginning at 10 a.m., Mayor Jim Paine and city councilors will take turns sitting in the dunk tank, kids can compete in three-legged races and visit bubble tables.

"We wanted to bring an old-school, company picnic feel to the weekend," Hermanson said.

Park activities include bounce houses, craft vendors, K-9 demos, mini therapy horses and more. The day winds up with a 5 p.m. street dance at Birds Bar featuring DC Rockers and the Most Wanted as well as live music by 111 at Tavern 105.

For more information, visit www.southenddays.com or the South End Days Facebook page.

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