In August 2012 as many as 1,000 revelers took part in the “2nd Annual Midnight Water Gun Fight in Balboa Park” that resulted in $19,000 damages to the park’s historic reflecting pond and surrounding landscaping. Organizers directed participants using social media to meet at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Bea Evenson fountain in front of the San Diego Natural History Museum and have said they explicitly told people to stay out of the pond but the event got out of hand.
The most expensive fixes were replacing seven of the pond’s 26 submerged lily boxes and repairing the ornamental concrete caps on the fountain which were broken. The Friends of Balboa Park organization raised $60,000 in donations which paid for the materials used and allowed for more extensive restoration to the beautiful historic pond.
Crews cleared away all the damaged plant material, dirt, mud and debris left over from the event in the weeks that followed. They also made temporary repairs to the lily pond plumbing system and treated the water to protect the fish and turtles who lived in the lily pond.
Eventually the city replanted along the perimeter of the lily pond and the area surrounding the North/Plaza de Panama Fountain and completed repairs to the fountain. The longer-term repairs took place in December and January after the lilies went dormant, including repairs to the caps on the fountain, replacing the submerged planters and making permanent repairs to a drainage pipe in the lily pond .
“I want to thank our park maintenance crews, and the friends of Balboa Park for working to restore the lily pond and fountain,” Jerry Sanders said in a statement. “The inexcusable vandalism that took place there showed an utter disregard for a community treasure, but our parks department, Friends of Balboa Park, local nonprofit organizations and individual donors are showing what San Diego is really made of.”
The Boxes are Rebuilt
Volunteers from Friends of Balboa Park, the community and Girl Scouts San Diego worked to rebuild the 26 boxes that hold water lilies in the pond.
The Repair to the Pond Basin
When the plants had gone dormant, Park & Recreation Department and Friends of Balboa Park completed the final work to recover from the damage to the Lily Pond. The restoration took 2 months.
The Lily Pond reopening celebration was held in February 2013. To view a complete listing of donors for the repair and restoration project, click here.