New Grantville park makes splash
by Clay Neely
More than 300 people of all ages attended the grand opening of the Grantville splash park Saturday.
The weather was ideal for a Memorial Day weekend opening as visitors from Newnan, Hogansville, Moreland and Sharpsburg arrived to enjoy the new park on a summer-like extended weekend.
“It was a great turnout,” said Michelle Huffstickler, recreation director for Grantville. “The park was full, people were having barbecues, playing basketball and enjoying the splash park. It was great seeing just as many parents and grandparents as there were children having fun in the water.”
Since the splash park opened on Saturday, Huffstickler has seen the splash park averaging more than 200 people per day.
Grantville City Council Members David Riley and Leonard Gomez were on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony and echoed Huffstickler’s observations.
“When you are surrounded by goodwill and friendship, that’s how a community is supposed to be,” Gomez said. “I’ve lived in this community for ten years and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything quite like that.”
“The children’s faces said it all and it was consistent,” Riley said. “It was such a positive experience and we hope to continue bringing quality recreation to the 3,500 citizens of Grantville.”
Local parents have also voiced their appreciation for the new splash park. Jay Coker, a father of two, feels the new splash park has filled a void that has been missing in the community.
“Being at the park on Saturday and seeing the kids laughing and playing together outside took me back 20 or 30 years, when you stayed outside all day and played with your friends in the neighborhood,” he said. “These days it's so hard to give kids a good reason to actually go outside and enjoy the weather, because they would rather be on their iPads or Xboxes in the air conditioning.”
Coker feels that local families deserve to have a place like the splash park – a place where people of all ages can come to participate.
“It’s affordable and close to home,” Coker said. “Grantville hasn't had that for a long time, and it was encouraging to see so many people from all walks of life come out and support it.”
Amy Sikes is another Grantville parent who has found some relief in the addition of a new facility that caters to her family.
“As a parent, it is always a challenge to find affordable fun activities for your children in the summer,” she said. “The splash park is a wonderful addition to our small town that provides a safe, fun way for children of all ages to cool off and have a good time. We have visited twice since it opened and my 4-year-old wants to go back every day.”
Huffstickler also dispelled the notion that there was an age limit for the splash park and even hinted toward events such as “Teen Takeover Tuesday,” where from 7 to 9 p.m. the park would be designated exclusively for teenagers.
“We have a lot of teenagers who are playing basketball and skating all day and the idea of using the splash park as a way to cool down is very appealing to them,” Huffstickler said. “However, they’re also a bit ‘too cool’ to come join in with the younger kids. So the idea of one night a week after the park closes, we could give them a chance to enjoy the splash park with their own demographic is very appealing.”
While the “Teen Takeover” idea is not yet finalized, it is one of a handful of new ideas that are currently being discussed.
Since one of Huffstickler’s goals is ensuring the park is available to all age groups, she is also attempting to give seniors and toddlers the chance to enjoy the features the park has to offer.
“You’re never too old to enjoy the water,” she said. “Toddler mornings would be ideal in order to keep the young ones from getting their skin burned since their skin is so tender. Since the splash park’s features are automated, we can program them to play games with the children like musical chairs and things like that.”
While Huffstickler is grateful for the positive response she has received from the community, she acknowledges the fact that she wasn’t the only one who made the splash park a reality.
“Without the support I’ve seen from every single person who has helped out in some form or fashion, this would never have happened,” Huffstickler said. “I can’t thank the community enough.”
Admission for the Grantville splash park is $1 dollar per person, and it is open to all ages. The splash park features a water tree, water rings, water buckets and a special area just for toddlers. The facilities are also available for public and private rental.