Take 'First Splash' to celebrate opening of outdoor splash pad

Cary Ashby • Jun 1, 2018 at 4:00 AM

The aquatic center staff at the Ernsthausen Community Center is celebrating the grand opening of its new splash pad Saturday with an event called First Splash.

“We want to encourage the public to come out. We have free entry for the first 400 patrons who walk through the doors,” said Joe Lindenberger, Norwalk parks and recreation department superintendent.

Ernsthausen staff members will hand out food vouchers for a hot dog, chips and water to the first 200 people.

“The radio station will be here live. There will be some giveaways,” Lindenberger said. “We will have hot dogs grilling from 12 to 12:50.”

Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan and city administrators will be at the splash pad for the ribbon cutting at 1.

“We basically will clear the pool at 12:50 like we normally do — a 10-minute break. We’ll have live music; Chris Castle will be there,” Lindenberger said. “We’ll have the board of DD. … They have been instrumental with the Help Me Grow funds they donated to the city. We appreciate their donation; they donated $50,000.”

The splash pad project cost $250,000, with $200,000 coming from the state capital bill grant.

“That was a zero match, so the city didn’t have to contribute anything. We had to do a little bit of labor out there with the guys installing some of the concrete,” Lindenberger said. “In April, they were pouring concrete in the snow.”

The 40-foot by 80-foot aquatic recreation area is east of the zero-depth entry for the outside pool, which opened for the season Thursday — the last day of school for Norwalk students.

Lindenberger said it’s ironic that the grand opening of the splash pad comes slightly more than a month after there was snow on the ground and city general services department employees were doing work at the site.

“It will be open a day-and-a-half prior to the grand opening,” he said. “Hopefully we will have some good weather that will cooperate with us.”

Installing the splash pad required some mild changes near the zero-entry for the pool.

“We removed the three (oversized) umbrellas that were there. Right now there’s not a lot of shade. There are two (umbrellas) at the front by the old concession stand,” said Lindenberger, who expects to reinstall the three umbrellas at some point.

Water Odyssey in Texas provided the equipment and installed the underground tanks. City workers performed some duct and perimeter concrete work in the fall.

“Everything we have out there is stainless steel. There are no fiberglass pieces, so that stuff is more durable,” Lindenberger said. “The first week of May all the features were installed.” 

The Ernsthausen staff expects young children to be the prime audience for the splash pad.

“I think the sweet spot is your 3- to 8-year-olds especially. I think even the little 10-month-olds will be sitting on the fountains that are coming up,” Lindenberger said.

Tweens and teenagers also may enjoy the water recreation.

“My daughter is 13. She will come out with her little brother or sister and she will love it. She will love running around with them,” Lindenberger said.

There are plans for a fenced-in “digging area” beside the splash pad where children can rummage through the sand pit with digging toys.

“The Lions Club donated several thousand dollars and we’re buying a large, 20 by 18 canopy to cover that sand area,” Lindenberger said. 

“Through the Huron County Fund, we received a couple thousand dollars also to have a shower tower with a couple showers. When the kids are covered with sand, they wash their feet off, go down the concrete over to the splash pad. That way they are not dragging a lot of sand into (it).”

The splash pad uses its own water-recirculation system.

“It’s chlorinated water. It’s treated; it’s safe,” Lindenberger said. “We are tickled with our time line. It was just a couple weeks ago that we passed all of our inspections. … Now it’s nothing but go, go, go.”

The First Splash event will include drone coverage. Kelly Lippus, executive director of the Huron County Chamber of Commerce, is helping promote it.

“She is lining up some photography and drone coverage and she will be there as well,” Lindenberger said. “We will have drone coverage of these kids flooding the splash pad (by) probably 1:15 or 1:30.”

The parks and recreation superintendent has heard “nothing but excitement” and many positive comments from the public about the splash pad.

“If our membership numbers are an indication of that, then we expect (to have) a very busy summer. Of course, this is Ohio; you don’t know what will happen with weather. We could have a very rainy summer,” Lindenberger said. “If we have any of the weather like we’ve had recently, this place will be packed.”

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