ARLINGTON >> In what has become a highly anticipated yearly tradition, Bubble Ball returned to the Arlington Memorial Middle and High School gymnasium Thursday evening.
The event, which began last year, is put on as a fundraiser for Fisher Elementary's artist in residence program. There was also a 50-50 raffle held, with funds raised from that supporting a field trip to New York City. The fundraiser was the brainchild of third grade teacher Charlie Cummings and guidance counselor Tristina McDonald. The cost is $5 per person or $20 per family with free admission to those ages three and under.
"Bubble Ball was such a blast last year, we had to bring it back," said Cummings, "It's fun family entertainment, and everyone is just laughing the entire time. The police and firefighters are great sports to help us with this fundraiser, and we hope to have another large crowd this year."
This year there were only two games played, a battle between two teams of teachers from Fisher, and the long-awaited rematch between Arlington Fire and Rescue and a Law Enforcement team made up of Vermont State Police, Fish and Wildlife Department wardens, Manchester Police, and Bennington Police.
"The game is a great community event," said Fisher principal Deanne Lacoste to the competitors before the first match, "Please be careful."
Similarly, Cummings, who acted as the announcer for the event, warned parents that young children should not sit in the front row, as they could be in danger if bubbled competitors were to leave their feet and crash into the stands. "Please keep your children off the floor," he cautioned, "We don't want anyone to get hurt tonight, except for those playing bubble ball."
Bubble Ball, a sport similar to full-contact soccer — except that the players are wearing large inflatable bubbles over their upper bodies — became an overnight sensation in Europe after a YouTube video went viral in 2011. New York City-based BubbleBall Inc., which launched in 2014, credits themselves with bringing the sport to the United States.
Before the main event matchup between the law enforcement and firefighter teams, the lights were turned off in the gym, and both teams entered with blue or red flashing lights, respectively. Unfortunately for the fire team, they didn't have as many substitutes as the law enforcement team, as a fire call came in about five minutes before the match began, and several had to leave to attend to that matter. The law enforcement team scored two quick goals to get the first period started, and shut down the firefighter offense. The fire department scored their first goal with about a minute remaining in the first period, but the police came right back scoring a buzzer beater to make the score 3-1. They scored again when play resumed to put the fire department at a 4-1 disadvantage. Just before the end of the second period, a firefighter got the ball stuck in the top of his bubble, and dove into the net for the goal. Just before the end of the game, a firefighter took a shot from well beyond half court and scored, making the score 4-3, but it was too little, too late, and the law enforcement team held on to win.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.