Flood volunteers soak up RedHawks gameThe crowd gave him a standing ovation Sunday, but Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker wasn’t having it.
By: Mike Nowatzki, INFORUM
The crowd gave him a standing ovation Sunday, but Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker wasn’t having it.
“Please sit down. That’s what I want to do,” he said into the microphone, drawing laughs from the stands at Newman Outdoor Field.
After an exhausting flood fight this year, RedHawks fans seemed happy to oblige and enjoy a relaxing day at the ballpark amid sunny skies and 65-degree weather.
The RedHawks gave away 4,082 tickets to Sunday’s game as a thank-you to those who helped battle area flooding this spring.
The number was a nod to the Red River’s record crest of 40.82 feet on March 28.
At the top of the stands down the first base line, Vern Anderson and his grandchildren munched on a jumbo bag of popcorn. His 84-year-old mother, Ione Anderson, forced to move from Fargo’s Bethany Homes to Casselton, N.D., as a precaution during the flood, sat in her wheelchair next to him.
Anderson helped fill sandbags at the Fargodome during the height of the flood fight.
His fiancée, Debbie Unruh, volunteered by answering phones at the FirstLink call center.
“I think we’ve long lost the stress,” said Anderson, whose north Fargo condo about 100 yards from the river was unscathed. “But this is kind of nice to be appreciated for what people have done.”
Anderson noted that many people who helped in the flood fight weren’t at Sunday’s game but deserve thanks just the same.
“I don’t think we could have done it without ’em,” he said.
Walaker, whose ceremonial first pitch one-hopped its way to the catcher’s mitt, echoed the sentiment.
“We would not have gotten through this whole ordeal without the help from our community that stretched hundreds of miles,” he told the crowd, all of whom received free flood-fighter T-shirts.
The same sandbags that fatigued muscles during the flood fight made for some light-hearted entertainment between innings.
Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney and Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist squared off in a modified game of horseshoes, chucking sandbags at an orange construction post.
Bergquist’s first two lobs fell short, and Laney surrounded the post with his three shots. But Bergquist came out on top, his final toss sneaking in right against the post.
“I think I got sharked,” Laney joked afterward.
“I was a softball pitcher for many years,” Bergquist said.
It was a privilege to take part in the day, Laney said.
“We may have been the face of the flood fight, but the people of this community, the citizens, the students, they were the heart and soul and the courage,” he said.
Kids got into the action, too.
Five-year-old Timothy Kaeding competed in the sandbag obstacle course, his small frame drowning in an adult-sized yellow construction vest and rubber boots as he carried a sandbag to the finish line.
“It was kind of heavy,” he said.
The boy watched the game with his aunt, Karen White, and other members of Prairie View Church who volunteered during the flood. With sunglasses on and her curly red hair sticking out from under her baseball cap, White was all smiles and cheers as a RedHawks player smacked a home run.
“It’s a perfect day for a baseball game,” she said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528