GALION — Kids from across the area positioned themselves next to their choice of water features in the city’s new splash park at noon on Friday as the water was turned on for the first time.
The long-anticipated splash park opened at East Park in Galion to raving reviews by parents, grandparents and children.
“This is fun,” screamed 5-year-old Elaina Elder as water poured down on her from a tiger’s mouth.
Her mom, Stephanie Elder, is thrilled the splash park is now open.
“My girls couldn’t sleep last night because they were so excited. We have heard and watched the construction of the splash park for over a year because we live across the street from the park. We know it takes time and the wait was definitely worth it,” said Elder as Elaina played in the water with her younger sister, 3-year-old Lilly, and a friend, Penny Shepherd.
Shepherd lives in Mansfield, but came to the splash park with her grandmother, Barbara Abraham, who lives near East Park.
“She wanted to go to the pool so I suggested we come here instead and I am glad we did. This is really nice for the kids,” Abraham said.
Shirley Clark, head of the Galion City Council’s parks committee, said she took the idea of a splash park to the city’s administration more than two years ago.
“We had to check on costs, secure the funding then construct the splash park. Our service department did a great job,” said Clark.
The $410,000 project was funded through $244,775 in grants through the Egbert M. Freese Foundation and the city’s match of $128,655. The project includes the aquatic playground and water features along with a new restroom facility.
Mayor Tom O’Leary said the laughter of the children enjoying the splash park makes all of the hard work worthwhile.
“It took time to get the splash park completed but it is all worthwhile when I see all of the kids having so much fun,” O’Leary said. “Our service department did a great job.”
The splash park is an aquatic playground with toys that offer water effects such as Rocky Rain that is an arch with falling water and Toby the Tiger that is a slide with water effects. There is no pool associated with the splash park and the water features are suitable for children up to the age of 12.
“This will be so convenient for us,” said Teri Grieve, who lives on the east side of the city.
“I can bring my 6-year-old son to play with kids in his age-range and not have to worry about him going into the deep end of a pool,” Grieve said.
O’Leary said admission to the splash park is free of charge and the water will be on from noon to 10 p.m. daily.
“We will have part-time staff from the Galion YMCA on hand from noon to about 5 p.m. each day for clean up and maintenance issues,” O’Leary said.
Clark said the splash park is residents throughout the city.
“I wanted to do something for the east side of town because some of the kids do not have transportation to Heise Park. Some of the kids cannot afford to go to the pool every day, either, so I am happy we are able to offer the splash park free of charge,” Clark said. “This park is an asset to the entire city.”
Reach Gasuras on Twitter: @kimberlygasuras