Balboa Park Lily Pond Vandalized In Water-Gun Fight

Major Damage Caused To 97-Year-Old Lily Pond; Event Held Early Sunday Morning

Authorities sought Monday to determine who organized a mass water-gun party that caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to a 97-year-old Balboa Park lily pond, one of the city's most recognizable landmarks.

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Hundreds of people gathered late Saturday night -- shortly before midnight -- to take part in the raucous event, which was promoted online via social media, according to San Diego police.

The event was dubbed the "Second Annual Balboa Park Water Gun Fight."

The group tore up foliage in and around the rectangular reflecting pool, constructed for the 1915-17 Panama-California Exposition, and broke some plumbing equipment, causing flooding problems, SDPD Detective Gary Hassen said.

A 10News viewer said more than three feet of water was removed from the lily pond located in front of the Botanical Building in Balboa Park.

Park officials told 10News that most, if not all, of the koi fish in the pond might die. Officials also said many of the lilies may also die.

No arrests had been made or suspects identified by late Monday morning, according to Hassen.

There is no surveillance video because there are no cameras in that area. However, police are reviewing videos taken at the event.

On Monday, 10News asked SDPD officials about police presence at the event, and Hassen responded, "We received zero phone calls from Balboa Park that there was anything or any problems going on."

Hassen said police were aware of the invitations to the water-gun fight that had gone out on Facebook and other social media sites. He noted last year's event happened with no problems at all, so he contended police didn't have any reason to think this year's event would be any different.

Hassen admitted that a woman called before the event took place, voicing concerns about how many people were going to show up.

"She called Friday night for her concerns for a future event, the night coming. We didn't get any calls that night from the park," said Hassen.

Hassen said between 10 p.m. Saturday and 2 a.m. Sunday, police received 75 calls for service from the Gaslamp Quarter, which tied up officers.

"We don't have the luxury of officers driving around doing nothing. We would love to have had officers. In hindsight, yes; in a perfect world, yes, it would never have happened," he said.

Mayor Jerry Sanders decried the revelers' behavior, saying he was "appalled by the complete disregard for our iconic park by these delinquents."

"The damage they did to the century-old lily pond and the mess they left behind is unacceptable," Sanders said. "We will hold those who did this accountable for their actions, which may be criminal, and for every penny it costs to return this area to its original beauty."

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