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The Nerf Wars begin

The fourth annual Cloquet-Esko Nerf war started last week, which means residents should be on the lookout for teenagers armed with brightly colored Nerf guns (black guns are not allowed) who may be chasing each other on foot or driving erratically.

The Nerf war is a non-school-sanctioned competition organized by high school kids for high school kids. It has rules, teams rosters, cash prizes and teenage commissioners.

The rules are fairly basic. Nerf War participants can't shoot each other at school, at practice or at work. They can't shoot someone getting in or out of a car before or after work or practice. They can sneak into a competitor's unlocked house, however, but not between midnight and 7 a.m. on a school night, and not if that house is locked. There are a number of “No Nerf Zones” including school events, competitive sports players who are competing at the time, and practices (and walking to car), any church property, and numerous area businesses and/or special events.

The Cloquet Police Department sent out a warning last week about the annual games.

“As innocent as these games may be, we encourage parents to talk with their teens about the dangers associated with these types of activities,” the police noted, after outlining cautionary advice for players and community members, including the following:

  • “Players should refrain from playing while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Players caught violating traffic laws, including shooting or throwing objects from a motor vehicle, may be cited or arrested,” police said.
  • “Other communities have reported players entering other players’ houses, unannounced and unplanned, to shoot the player while they were sleeping,” the police warning stated. “This behavior presents significant risks as other family members may be unaware of such a game occurring, and many own [real] guns for protections from burglaries or other crimes.”

Kids need to make sure they don’t escalate any situation.

“If you are stopped or confronted by law enforcement, you should keep your hands visible and not make any sudden movements that may cause the officer to believe you are reaching for a weapon that could harm them,” the police cautioned.

Proceeds from the game (other than prize monies and expenses) are donated to the REACH mentoring program. It is not a REACH-sponsored event.