Hunters and Runners takes a turn towards trouble
May 3, 2017
As the spring sun began to drop below the hills beyond Wenatchee High School, the controversial tradition of “Hunters and Runners” began yet again with the familiar pounding of feet and revving of engines. The game, played on April 27, combines hide and seek with tag in the neighborhoods between WHS and Target.
The event, legal in theory, results in adrenaline highs for participants and numerous 911 calls from citizens every year. This time, aside from the usual complaints of reckless driving and trespassing, there were also reports of paintball guns being fired in neighborhoods and eggs being thrown at cars and pedestrians not participating.
“People came to the school the next day to complain about it because they were so mad,” Wenatchee Police Officer Jared Reinfeld said. “Including citizens that had nothing to do with it that had eggs and paintballs shot at them.”
Hunters and Runners is organized by groups of students, usually upperclassmen, and school administrators are not involved with the process, nor do they condone it according to WHS principal Eric Anderson.
A major safety concern attributed to the game is the reckless driving of the hunters, who chase down the runners in trucks, SUVs, and jeeps.
“That’s where it became a big problem, the reckless driving in neighborhoods where there were kids playing on the streets and riding bikes,” Reinfeld said. “It would be real sad to hit a kid riding their bike in the road.”
No arrests were made this year, although a few students couldn’t escape tickets.
“Likely what’s going to happen if someone gets caught [throwing eggs and paint balls again] is they’re going to go to jail,” Reinfeld said.
“I know kids are going to do stuff but we have places in town,” Reinfeld said. “Not neighborhoods and private property, to do this stuff. We live in an amazing place. There’s places to go that would be a lot less intrusive into people’s lives. That’s what I would recommend.”
While it cannot be denied that some participants engage in illegal activities, they are the minority according to junior Oscar Benjume. For students, the event is a social get together. The majority are following the law and simply having fun.
“It’s always been a fun time chasing people or running. Just the adrenaline rush and having fun meeting new people. When everybody gets together for hunters and runners people just meet people when they’re running. I think that’s a big reason [people do it].”