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It’s a serious time. There’s a lot of disagreement and uncertainty in the world right now. With all the real chaos out there, it’s nice to see that some people are just joshing around.
We spend a lot of our time writing dour admonishments or detailed policy assessments. We’re often “concerned” or “hopeful” that public officials are acting in a certain way. When it comes to a group of hundreds of people named Josh getting together outside and battling it out over their shared name, however, we’re just plain amused.
The entry qualifications? Being named Josh. The weapons? Pool noodles. The prize? A Burger King crown and a coronation as the one true Josh. The result? Hilarity, and some donations for a good cause.
It began with pandemic boredom and led to a good-natured brawl with pool noodles in a Nebraska park (there’s a combination of words we’ve never written before). Josh Swain, a 22-year-old college student from Arizona, started all of this a year ago when he reached out on social media to others sharing his name and challenged them to a duel.
Normally, we’d put ourselves down in the anti-dueling camp. It’s a tad Hamiltonian for our taste, and it generally doesn’t end well for somebody. But in this case, it led to hundreds of Joshes converging Saturday on Lincoln, Nebraska’s Air Park for a silly showdown over their shared name. Even Swain was surprised by the turnout. “I did not expect people to be as adamant about this as they are right now,” he said. That makes all of us.
There was a “grueling and righteous battle of Rock, Paper, Scissors,” according to a report from the Associated Press, and then the noodle free-for-all. A 4-year-old boy named Joshua Vinson Jr. emerged victorious from this hectic Josh pit, and was celebrated by his competitors as “Little Josh.” He’s even gaining some internet fame.
“He loves attention,” his father told the Lincoln Journal Star. “He’s always wanted his own YouTube channel, so there he is. He’s famous.”
The event raised $8,000 for Children’s Hospital and Medical Center Foundation in Omaha, where Vinson Jr. was treated for seizures when he was about two, his father told the Lincoln newspaper, saying the victory felt meant to be. Competitors also donated between 200 and 300 pounds of food to a local food bank.
“It’s been such a really good show of people coming together for a good cause, but also something just really fun,” Betsy Walker, a Lincoln local who helped organize the food donations, told the Journal Star. “I think after everything we’ve been through in the past year, it’s really good that we’ve had this.”
To be sure, this was an unusual event. Even the Josh who started it admits that. But it’s been a bizarre year, and any break from the relentless slog of a pandemic is a good break. Kudos to all the Joshes and nonJoshes who helped make this happen (and happen outdoors, with participants asked to wear masks) and for giving us a laugh when laughter has been in short supply.