If a massive fire breaks out next week, Mansfield is covered. The city expects 1,500 to 2,000 firefighters from around the state to descend upon the community for the Texas Firefighter Summer Games.
From Sunday through July 25, firefighters from El Paso to Longview and Houston to Amarillo will compete in 17 sports in the 31st annual event, but the first time the games have been held in Mansfield.
And they are coming to play.
“They treat this like a vacation,” said Mansfield Fire Chief Barry Bondurant. “It’s all joking, but once they start playing for medals it gets nasty. In the soccer games, you’ll see some fights break out. Some of the basketball players are from Division I schools. Some even played semi-pro.”
And Mansfield’s firefighters will be in there competing for gold in every category, Bondurant said. The group brought home a half dozen medals from last year’s event, and plan to make a good showing in their hometown event.
All competitions are free and open to the public, including bowling, powerlifting, darts, soccer, sporting clays, softball, golf, basketball, Texas Hold ‘Em, archery, horseshoes, washers, sand volleyball, indoor volleyball, disc golf, paintball and Cross Fit. Go to www.mansfieldsgotgame.com for times and locations of each competition.
“They’re all good events,” Bondurant said. “They are broken into divisions, according to how good they are.
“Cross Fit is going to be a good one to watch,” he said. “You are going to see some pretty in-shape guys.”
Most of the events will be held in or around Mansfield, but some -- like archery, bowling, golf and disc golf -- will be staged in other cities.
“We don’t have as many venues as we have sports,” said Theresa Cohagen, the city’s tourism manager.
Many of the firefighters will compete in multiple sports, bring their families and stay for several days, she said. She is planning special events and discounts to keep them in town.
One that is open to the public is Family Fun Night, set for 7-10 p.m. July 23 at Katherine Rose Memorial Park. The free event will be a lot like the popular Night on the Town events, says Angie Henley, Mansfield’s cultural arts/special events supervisor. Live music from the Dave Whiteman Band, bounce houses, Hydration Station and burgers from In-N-Out Burger are planned, she said.
“We really encourage the community to come out, too,” Henley said. “Bring your blankets and bug spray.”
The firefighters association will have a beer garden with proceeds going to charity, Bondurant said.
Most of all, the games are a chance for the city to show off the community, organizers say.
“For us, it’s a way to show that Mansfield can host larger events and show that we can put on a good show,” Cohagen said.
The games will be one of the largest events held in the city, comparable to the NCAA Division II National Swimming & Diving Championships, which were held in 2012.
“It’s a lot of work,” admitted Bondurant, who is coordinating two of the sports. “They’re coming, seeing our equipment. We’re going to show them what we’ve got.”