Global Not Local’s Community Water Day is returning to Winter Garden for the second time after it was canceled last year because of the pandemic.
And despite the year off, organizers said the event will be bigger and better, complete with water slides, a bounce house, a dunk tank, Slip N’ Slide, dodgeball and kickball. There also will be live entertainment and, of course, a water gun battle. The event is free and open to the public.
Organizer Dell Coates started Water Day in 2019 to provide a positive outlet for kids in areas impacted by crime. Combined with the heat and humidity of a Florida summer, there was a hole waiting to be filled.
“That first year, we just did it,” Coates said. “We didn’t have permits or any of that stuff. Some of the police officers came by and had a water gun fight with us. It was just to provide something for the kids to do, because they had nothing else to do otherwise in the heat of summer.”
The project is personal to Coates in many ways. Having grown up in the neighborhood, he saw firsthand how a lack of positive outlets can affect people. Although he was fortunate to grow up with both of his parents in his life, that was not the case for many others.
“Most of the kids I grew up with, and seeing it also when I was at Boys and Girls Club, lived with single parents who didn’t have a lot of time to hang out with their kids due to having to work a lot,” Coates said. “Having something that the kids can look forward to and have fun with makes a huge difference in their life. That’s all this is about — making a difference.”
According to its website, Global Not Local strives to inspire local youth to look beyond their environment and strive to become the best version of themselves.
Outside of Global Not Local, Coates works as a club promoter with several places in downtown Orlando and also coaches an AAU basketball team comprising primarily sixth- to 10th-graders.