It's all fun and games until someone gets splashed.

Even at an event called the "Water Carnival."

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That's the crossroads-or cross-currents-we are at with the Parade of the Northwest, a traditional finale of the Detroit Lakes Water Carnival (this year's parade is Sunday, July 21).

As crowds have become more willing to "return fire" by splashing or spraying water on parade floats in recent years, some parade participants don't necessarily want to be sprayed just because others do.

Those entries might include classic or otherwise personal vehicles, costly floats or signs or costumes, or expensive clothing or hair and makeup that are ruined by water.

We sympathize with those who want to be in the parade, but not in the line of fire. The parade's organizers, the Jaycees, have created "no-spraying" signs to be used by those entries that do not want to be sprayed with water.

That's a great step to keeping the fun high, but the participants dry. Another might be to put all the "dry" entries at the front of the parade, the "wet" at the back, and clearly mark when the water battles should start.

It is a balancing act. Parades should be fun for all ages, but a 7-year-old's idea of fun might be different than a 70-year-old's. And all of those people should be allowed to enjoy the parade to whatever degree they want.

The Jaycees themselves encourage the water shoot-out on the parade's Facebook page: "Line the streets and try to stay dry or bring your own supply of water soaking gadgets and participate in all the fun!"

The point of the parade is to have a great, small-town event that celebrates Detroit Lakes' signature feature. A little water won't hurt anyone, but everyone should be aware of what can happen, too.

There is the money issue for expensive clothes or gear. There is the respect issue (even if some of the parade entries, like a little brother might say, "started it").

Then there are the safety issues. Some kids could be hurt or scared by strong, sudden blasts of water. Folks can slip, trip or accidentally take a dip, too.

We prefer a parade where everyone is encouraged to participate, as an entrant or spectator, to whatever degree they want or feel comfortable.

But let's use common sense when spraying from or toward a parade entry. Be aware of your surroundings, and mindful of who wants to be sprayed and who doesn't.

Because the Parade of the Northwest is so darn much fun, we'd hate it if folks got so frustrated that they packed up their water balloons and just went home.