New sprayground makes a splash with opening at Big Pool




Six-year-old Caven Carabajal was a little timid when he walked through the gates of the new sprayground area at the Big Pool on Saturday, but it wasn't long before the youngster was laughing and enjoying blasts of water with other children.

With some coaxing from his grandmother, Caven said he was having fun and was glad his grandma brought him to the grand opening of the new feature at the pool.

"It's good. It's cold," he said.

Temperatures in the upper 70s on Saturday, only a few days removed from temperatures below freezing, brought a couple dozen people to the sprayground.

Donna Gerstner, assistant superintendent of the Garden City Recreation Commission, said Rec officials were excited to get some decent weather for the opening.

"Probably not as excited as these two, but definitely excited," Gerstner said, referring to some of the children eagerly awaiting for the gates to open.

"We were kind of worried about it a little bit the way the weather was going this spring. Any other year it would be hot," she said.

Cindy Hernandez, Caven's grandmother, said she saw something on Facebook about the opening and decided to surprise her grandson by taking him to it.

"He got excited," she said. "I think it's good for the little ones who are a little timid about getting in the baby pool. They can get as wet as they want to, and the parents with this gate here can feel a little more safe."

The sprayground — about the size of a volleyball court — is located on the east side of the pool near the sun deck. It is a zero-depth area for children that includes several different apparatus that squirt or dump water and includes a few benches and shade.

"What's really nice about the spraypark is it has allowed us to pull the baby pool off the system from the big pool," Gerstner said. "That means the water gets circulated more than it did before, and it makes it much safer. This water has its own chemical controller and its own reservoir separate from the Big Pool area."

In addition, people will be able to use the sprayground on warm days in the spring and fall outside of the Big Pool's normal operating season. On those days, people can enter without going into the fenced-in pool area.

Admission is free until the Big Pool opens over Memorial Day weekend. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., though it may be closed if the temperature is too cold.

During the swimming pool season, the sprayground hours will be adjusted. During regular pool hours, people will have to go through the main pool gates to get to the sprayground and will be charged regular admission.

However, the sprayground will be open at no charge from 10 a.m. to noon each day before the main pool opens, and 6 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday, after the pool closes.

Gerstner said parents should be aware that the sprayground is an unsupervised area without a lifeguard present.

Construction of the nearly $274,000 project started about a year ago. The city issued a $200,000 general obligation bond for the project. The rest of the funding came from a combination of sources, including the Finnup Foundation, Smart Start, and Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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