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Competing to fill a different home plate

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A friendly rivalry will play out this weekend in Red Wing for a good cause.

Local law enforcement and firefighters will face off during the Guns vs. Hoses softball game and fundraiser Sunday afternoon while raising money for the Packing for the Weekend program.

“The fire department and law enforcement in this area have a relationship that’s really unique,” firefighter and one of the event organizers Josh Johnholtz said. “A lot of us are friends on and off duty. … We give each other a hard time, but it’s all in good fun.”

The idea of a law enforcement-fire department softball game has been discussed for some time, police officer and co-organizer Adam Crain said, but the logistics were tough to figure out. This year, they decided to partner with a charity to help make the event a reality.

“The primary goal is to have a fun, community event,” Johnholtz said, noting it will be a family-friendly, relaxed atmosphere and there will be something going on throughout the whole event.

United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha & Pierce Counties has worked with many of the participants in the past, Executive Director Maureen Nelson said, but for this event the organizers called the United Way to propose the partnership.

“It was awesome,” Nelson said. “Not often do you get people coming to you and saying ‘We want to do a fundraiser for you.’”

Johnholtz said many firefighters and law enforcement employees have spouses who work for the school district or have volunteered with United Way or other programs before, so they understand the value of Packing for the Weekend.

The program sends meals and snacks home with students who might otherwise struggle to find food over the weekend, when school breakfasts and lunches aren’t available.

This year the United Way has added Wabasha-Kellogg schools and Goodhue County Education District to the program, bringing the total up to six districts, Nelson said.

She said the need is great, especially in area elementary schools.

Fundraising is always a benefit, Nelson said, but the goal of the Guns vs. Hoses event also is to “have families come out, have a good time, learn about what’s happening in their community and see they can partner with the United Way” in many different ways.

“We’re looking forward to it,” she said.

A number of community groups and businesses are helping with the game and other activities, from the Red Wing High School band performing to the Elks offering concessions and many more. Local businesses also are sponsoring the activities and prizes.

Red Wing volunteer coordinator Lori Brandl helped plan the event and gather sponsors, Johnholtz and Crain said.

The game will start at 1 p.m. Sunday Sept. 28, with doors opening at noon. The $2 admission also enters attendees in a drawing for a variety of prizes, including signed sports memorabilia, tickets and more.

Tickets for Guns vs. Hoses are available at the Red Wing Fall Hall, Law Enforcement Center, United Way office, City Hall, Randy’s, from police or firefighters or the day of the game at the field.

The winners will get bragging rights and a plaque to hang in their office, Crain said.

If you go…

What: Guns vs. Hoses softball game plus activities

Where: Red Wing Athletic Field

When: Sunday Sept. 28; gate opens at noon, game starts at 1 p.m.

Cost: $2 per ticket

Activities for all

On top of the softball game, there will be a variety of other activities for attendees at the Guns vs. Hoses event — including a dunk tank featuring the Red Wing Fire Department and Police Department chiefs that can be played for a donation.

The day will include face painting, a visit from mascots Rubin the Blue Bin, Sparky and McGruff, a K-9 demonstration, music from the Red Wing High School band, concessions offered by the Elks, fire and police trucks, T-shirt sales and more.

About Packing for the Weekend

United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha & Pierce Counties’ Packing for the Weekend program provides meals for students chosen by the schools in area school districts. The participants receive a bag with enough food for three full meals for a family of four and snacks for children each weekend.

This year, Packing for the Weekend programs will be in schools in Red Wing, Lake City, Cannon Falls, Wabasha-Kellogg, Zumbrota and the Goodhue County Education District.

Learn more at

The teams

Guns (law enforcement):

•Red Wing Police Department

•Prairie Island tribal police

•Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office

Hoses (fire):

•Red Wing Fire Department

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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