I wanted to take a few minutes and write to you about a fantastic success story taking place in our town this summer. If you are so inspired, please take what you learn here back to your town.
About a year ago, the town of Fuquay-Varina, NC, sent out an email survey asking residents for input on how they’d like to spend money set aside for Parks and Recreation. One of the choices was to put in a splash pad. I remember taking that survey and responding that I thought a splash pad would be a great addition to the town’s parks. My boys and I have been to a splash pad in Greensboro, NC, several times in the past few years, and we always had a fabulous time! According to Fuquay-Varina Mayor John Byrne, and as reported in WRAL’s GoAskMom, nearly 1/4 of the survey respondents felt the same way, and the town really wanted to listen to what moms want.
If you aren’t aware, a splash pad (or spray park) is a play space in a public park for water play where no lifeguards are necessary because there is virtually no standing water. Typically, a splash pad has several dozen water nozzles in the ground that spray water up into the air and onto the splash pad. Often, there are other play features on the splash pad like a loops of rings, water shooters, and sometimes even a huge bucket to dump water on the kids. The water from the splash pad is typically fresh or recycled like water in a swimming pool. Splash pads also make use of textured concrete, so that kids don’t slip. Think of a splash pad as a subset of the water fun you would have at a larger water park.
According to the News and Observer, “Fuquay-Varina’s pentagon-shaped pad is 6,000 square feet and has 35 nozzles, fountains, and other decorated spigots set up to spray water. It cost the town $335,000.” I live very close to the new splash pad, and I took frequent pictures of the daily construction work in-progress, which took less than 60 days to complete. Vortex Aquatic Structures International Inc. is the source of the equipment in Fuquay-Varina’s splash pad.
On Wednesday, July 15th, 2015, the town of Fuquay- Varina, NC, held the grand opening of their splash pad, and it was a huge success. Local media showed up in full force, along with 750+ kids and their parents. The town held a small ceremony to celebrate the political coordination that went into bringing the splash pad to fruition so quickly. The kids were immediately thrilled to cool off and play in the water spray.
Every day since then, the splash pad has been busy with kids and their parents cooling off from the summer heat. As a photographer, I have enjoyed trying to capture the perfect picture of the splashing excitement and the thrill the kids experience under the huge water bucket as it spills refreshing water down on them.
But, I’m also seeing some other interactions happening on the splash pad that truly warm my heart and have nothing to do with water. People from all walks of life are hanging out and having fun together. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, which side of town you live on, what school you go to, or your age, the splash pad is a cool and safe haven in the summer sun. Kids that can barely walk are playing beside tweens.
My son Johnny seems to love hanging out with the smaller children, encouraging them to risk getting their feet wet in the lower spray nozzles. Parents are enjoying adult conversation as they watch their children, and often parents are getting in on the wet fun too. I was there one day in my street clothes, and decided to get soaked anyway! How could I resist?!? I’m sure I wasn’t the first, and I know I won’t be the last. There’s a true sense of community coming together for a common cause… getting relief from the summer sun. The splash pad is a win-win proposition, no matter how you look at it!
Looking for a splash park near you? Check out the Splash Pad Parks website, which will help you find a splash park in your state. And don’t forget your waterproof camera. I used my iPhone, a conventional camera, and my waterproof Kodak EasyShare Sport C123 camera to capture all of the fun.