It’s been a well-known fact for a long time that deliberately breaking open fire hydrants to cool off on hot summer days is a Bad Idea. In the summer of 1986, the city of Philadelphia decided there needed to be a cool way to educate the public about the hazards of breaking open fire hydrants as a means to stay cool.
It’s not necessarily the message that makes this particularly nostalgic and Throwback Thursday-worthy, it’s the way the city chose to get the message across that makes this a great piece of nostalgia.
The Philadelphia Water Department put out a Public Service Announcement/Local Version of Breakin’ to inform young people (and the parents of these young) that there are alternatives to beating the heat that don’t involve breaking open fire hydrant, which can drain valuable water resources for the fire department that relies on them.
And The Message (capitalized to emphasize how important it is!) is brought to us, the viewers in the style of the Hip Hop/Breakdancing movies that were “all the rage” in the 1980s. We have our singer, the local version of every singer in all of those cinematic gems the Hip Hop/Breakdance film genre (wait, that was a genre?), rapping about the dangers of using fire hydrants to stay cool, and providing all the alternative ways to beat the heat – the park, the pool, or even playing basketball.
Because running around on a basketball court in 100-degree heat with 100% humidity is advisable.
Then we have teenagers playing leapfrog on a fire hydrant (which sounds less safe than actually trying to tap a fire hydrant of its precious water supply), and a title card advising us who is responsible for this Breakin’ ripoff – er, Public Service Announcement.
Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It: Call the hell out of them and ask them what they were thinking. Oh, and obey the Water Department.
But don’t take my carefully crafted word for any of this, just watch the video. And be educated.
Happy Throwback Thursday, and obey the water department, dammit! Use a pool!
Tell ’em Bugaloo Shrimp’s Third Cousin Twice Removed commanded you to do so.
Obey something else, while you’re at it. Come over and visit us at Retroist, where everyday is a Throwback.