Dunk Tank Diplomacy


The newest addition to last weekend’s Festival Italia was by far the best part of the event and should immediately be made a permanent fixture of this annual celebration.

No, I’m not talking about the Wakefield Civic League booth.

gerard_leeman_dunkI am speaking of course of the Dunk Tank, where a collection of politicians and public figures from the local level up to the state level agreed to take a seat on the platform above the dunk tank so that anyone willing to fork over five dollars to the Wakefield Interfaith Food Pantry could purchase three chances to pitch a ball and plunge a public official into the drink.

Among the local officials from Wakefield, MA who agreed to be drenched for a cause were Finance Committee Chairman Gerard Leeman, Town Administrator Steve Maio, School Committee members Greg Liakos, Evan Kenney and Tom Markham and FinCom Member Joe Tringale.

State officials who took the plunge included soaked solons like State Senator Jason Lewis and State Rep. Paul Brodeur along with Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash.

jason_lewis_dunkA good time was had by all, as Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives set aside their ideological differences and came together to raise money for a good local cause. It was a shining example of bipartisanship, or as Leeman called it, “dunk tank diplomacy.”

That’s fine. People generally enjoy seeing their public figures humiliated, especially if by dint of their own throwing prowess they can have a direct hand in proving that the officials are all wet.

But for the most part, those who agreed to take the plunge were popular figures. What was lacking was a heavy. Every good dunk tank needs at least one good villain – someone so preternaturally pompous, so insufferably smug that people will line up around the block to fork over a fin for the pleasure of firing a ball in anger to release the seat supporting the drowned rat.

paul_brodeur_dunkOne possible idea would be a “Facebook Faceoff.” Those brave Dark Knights of the Keyboard could venture out of their basements for once and into the daylight to take a seat on the dunk tank platform. People would pay handsomely for the opportunity to dunk their favorite Facebook trolls. It’s for a good cause after all – the Food Pantry.

But one idea I absolutely would not support is that members of the Fourth Estate take a seat on a future Tank of Dunk. We in the print medium simply don’t inspire sufficient rancor in any segment the populace, with the possible exception of the scientific community.

I have my own short list of candidates in mind, but I won’t mention any names. I’m doing them a favor.

Water doesn’t stain. Ink does.

[This column originally appeared in the August 27, 2015 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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