On a hot summer day when the highs hit the mid-80s, Central Park was possibly the coolest place to be. Thousands descended upon the Great Lawn to blast and be blasted by water weapons ranging from spray bottles and garden-variety water guns, to water bazookas and car pressure washers (but no water balloons -- they weren't allowed).
There was some confusion by participants as to exactly where to go, as the Waterfight event organizers had warned everyone that the Parks Department would not allow a giant congregation on the Great Lawn as in years past. So small skirmishes broke out on the walkways between 66th and 86th street, with the smaller groups banding together in search of a bigger fight. Eventually, most found their way to the Great Lawn where several thousand gathered together in a water gun frenzy that carried the primal energy of some kind of rain ritual. At one point, thousands of bodies squeezed together into a wet, dripping mass and simultaneously shot their weapons into the sky as they chanted. It was exhilarating and a little scary. I shivered.
There was plenty of dress up. One guy wore a pirate costume (though I didn't get his photo in time), while another wore a Viking helmet and fake beard. Another guy wore a stormtrooper helmet and Captain America shield. At times, the crowd would focus their plastic nozzles on a lone target (such as the Captain America guy), circling around him like a wounded animal that had to be put down. Then the guns would drop away and a new target would be chosen. It was a frenzy, but also a refreshing antidote to a hot summer day. At least, until the water guns ran dry and folks were forced to wait in long lines dozens deep to refill and get back into the fight.
P.S. If other photogs ever want to get into the middle of a water fight, I recommend the protective bag made from this tutorial. Or else use a rain sleeve secured with gaffers tape and a filter on the lens. It worked for me!