BENSON — Fourth of July in Benson was celebrated with a lineup of events that delighted families from all over the area.

Festivities kicked off Saturday morning with the town’s annual parade, followed by the traditional water fight in Lions Park, an event hosted by the Benson Fire Department. Entertainment and family activities continued throughout the day, ending with a spectacular fireworks show.

With its “America the Beautiful Recovering” theme, Benson’s parade drew 53 entries, most drenched in patriotic red, white and blue. Youngsters lining the parade route waved flags and pounced on candy tossed into the crowd by passing participants.

“I thought the parade went really well,” said Dorothy Moncada, director of Benson’s Parks and Recreation Department, the parade organizer. “Families had a blast watching all the colorful entries. More than anything, it was good to see people getting out and doing things again as a community after so many cancellations last year.”

While watching the parade with her family, Jackie Duenes shared similar comments.

“I was born and raised in Benson and own a business here,” she said. “There’s nothing like a small town parade to bring a community together. We look forward to this Fourth of July celebration every year.”

From the parade, spectators bundled up lawn chairs and other belongings and headed to Lions Par. Once there, they could cool off under the spray of fire hoses while cheering favorite fire fighting teams onto victory during the water fights.

Five teams faced off during Saturday’s water fight, representing firefighters from Benson, Pomerene, Saint David, Mescal/J6 and Cochise County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

Armed with high-pressure fire hoses the four-man teams aim the spray at a barrel suspended high overhead on a stretch of cable. Each team attempts to push the barrel into the opponent’s territory by delivering a powerful water spray through the hose.

Excited cheers fill the park with a deafening roar as the barrel moves between two telephone poles. Each competition lasts two minutes, or when the barrel is pushed all the way to one of the poles, whichever happens first. After two minutes, the team that pushes the barrel the farthest is declared the winner.

While setting up for the event, firefighters spray water into the air on one side of the park, where hundreds of children with outstretched arms, some wearing swim suits, welcome the cool spray.

Adults enjoy cooling off under the drenching as well.

“Along with the fireworks, I think this activity has become one of Benson’s traditions and is something the community really enjoys,” said Brad Hamilton, Benson public works director and city engineer. “We’ve been doing this ever since I started working for the city, and it always draws a big crowd. Kids and adults love it.”

Crowd favorite Benson Fire Department won this year’s competition.

Forty-nine vendors filled Lions Park.

“We had a great selection of food vendors, craft items and fun activities for kids like jumping castles, a water slide and a rock wall,” Moncada said.

While a threatening sky caused some concerns about the evening’s fireworks show, the display went off without a hitch.

“From start to finish this has been a great day,” said Vail resident Melanie Wilson. “It was a little warm, but I guess that’s to be expected this time of year. My kids love getting out with their friends and really enjoy these kinds of events. We’re even talking about going to Sierra Vista tomorrow for the fireworks there.”