For some Miami premies, the pressure at Holi was really on.
For example, Mike Burgoon, a 26-year-old farmer, and Mark Bonaparte, 29, maintenance man for the Miami community and all around handy-man, were really sweating it out before being showered with his Grace in the water fight of the century.
Mike, who grows organic avocadoes and mangos, left his crop in the hands of Mother Nature for a week and, along with Mark and John Bier, a London plumber formerly serving at IHQ, struggled through a maze of unknowns, knowing only that somehow it would happen.
Contacting Joe Anctil, they were told that Guru Maharaj Ji wanted a "helluva big spray gun" that would be able to spray the entire crowd in four colors.
A four-barrel anti-aircraft-like mechanism was ordered from a firm in Chicago and
8 Divine Times, April/ May 1977
was due to arrive anytime. On the day before the festival the gun had not arrived and at around closing time it was found in a Miami shop. The shopkeeper agreed to stay open until Mike and Mark could race down to buy it.
They determined that to get a spray of 100 feet it would be necessary to pump about 300 gallons a minute with 95 pounds of pressure. "And that's a pretty big pump," Mike admitted. The City Water Department was going to give them a standard three inch water meter on a fire hydrant, but they realized it wouldn't do the job. So, somehow the water company came out and built a special four-foot high and three-inch diameter water meter onto an adjacent fire hydrant.
And finally they didn't have a pump, or couldn't rent one, which would pump the amount of water necessary. They resorted to having to buy an agricultural pump used in large farming. While trying to raise the money a premie's father, who worked for the Fire Department, informed them that a regular Miami search-unit pump truck equipped with an operator could be rented for the incredible price of $7.50 an hour. This was two days before the scheduled event.
By Saturday at noon, all the parts had been purchased with money scrounged at the park that morning and, as the carpenters put up the final plastic covering, and ropes, and painted the huge circular stage surrounding the 12-foothigh platform with the four- barrel big spray (also built from Maharaj Ji's designed specifications), the final connections were made. At about 2 p.m. a successful test- run was made.
During the test run, everyone on hand thought they discovered that one individual could not operate the gun, due to its weight and the tremendous amount of water driven through it. Maharaj Ji was advised of this, hut, when he jumped on the stage, he simply took command and managed to use the gun all by himself.
"It really surprised everybody," Ted Tannenbaum, the overall coordinator for the Holi programs, said. "We didn't think it could be managed by one person but Maharaj Ji just went ahead and did it."
Below the stage, the mad scientist-plumbers were busy mixing colors in the huge plastic barrels which would feed the big spray through control valves which they had installed. All was ready. Or so they thought.
Guru Maharaj Ji appeared, walked on the stage and began smiling. He walked right up to the upper platform and began testing the big sprayer.
Minutes later a loud explosion was heard from below.
"I thought we had blown Guru Maharaj Ji up," declared Mike, as one of the four lines to the big gun burst open with a bang. Mark said his heart, too, burst at that point, because he just didn't want Maharaj Ji to leave.
The pressure in the hose that burst was so great that premies had to step on it to keep it under control. As it writhed on the ground, the stream that shot from it nearly tore one premie's head off. And within no time, the water under the stage was eight inches deep.
But despite this turn of events and the fact that the color pumps were not functioning so that Maharaj Ji could spray the premies in four colors, Mike - and everyone else - did not need to worry about Maharaj Ji leaving too soon.
"At one point it seemed as though Maharaj Ji was leaving," Teddy recalls. "We even cleared the way for him.
But then he suddenly turned around and went back to the gun. He liked it so much, he didn't want to leave."
Maharaj Ji used the gun for more than an hour, pivoting it around with amazing dexterity and keeping it fully under his control. Everyone else who had tried to work it alone found that the gun turned them rather than they turning the gun.
The whole program turned out to be a success, even from a maintenance man's point of view, despite the accident and mechanical failure.
"The people who maintain Flamingo Park were blissed out," Teddy said. "They were surprised that we left everything so nice. One of them said he had expected to see the stage there for weeks. But we left everything just the way we found it. They were completely positive about everything."
As for the spray gun, it may have a longer life than Mike, Mark, or John expected. As Guru Maharaj Ji left Flamingo Park, he said he just may want to have the spray gun installed at the top of the long driveway in Malibu.
"I may be wrong," Teddy said, "but I suspect we haven't seen the last of that gun."
Divine Times, April/ May 1977 9