It took longer than project organizers had hoped, but when the community splash finally opened Wednesday, the weather couldn't have been better.
On a day when temperatures soared into the upper 90s, local families were able to cool off at Prineville's long-awaited attraction as Kiwanis Club of Prineville members celebrated completion of the ambitious project.
Kids wasted no time getting acquainted with the new attraction, hurriedly moving from one water feature to the next, standing in the path of cooling sprays, trying out all of the moveable parts — and in some cases, targeting other friends with a blast of water.
Parents and other supervisors, meanwhile, got acquainted with the terraced seating that was partially shaded by nearby trees. On the south side of the splash pad, Antonio Sombrero Balloons gave away free balloon creations and Legacy Dance Company provided free glitter tattoos. On the other side of the pad, families could receive tickets good for hot dogs or hamburgers as well as other beverages and goodies, and Kona Ice provided snow cones.
"I'm really excited to see the turnout," said project coordinator Wayne Looney as the sound of music and playing children nearly drowned out his words. "Twenty-four hours ago, I was still getting the last inspection, so we couldn't know for sure if we were even going to do this."
The festivities concluded with a Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony that signaled the official opening of the long-awaited attraction.
The Kiwanis Club initially announced plans to build a splash pad in Prineville in September 2017. At the time, the club's hope was to complete the structure in time for kids to use during the summer of 2018.
Different hurdles along the way related to funding and securing of the Stryker Field site slowed progress of the project, so while work began on the splash pad in June 2018, the completion date was pushed back to this summer.
Unanticipated delays pushed the project back from a hoped-for June opening to the later weeks of this summer, but the Kiwanis Club managed to open the attraction in advance of Labor Day Weekend, before the first day of school and likely with plenty of warm days remaining this summer.
The splash pad project was made possible by numerous monetary and in-kind donations from the City of Prineville and Crook County to Wendels, SMAF Construction and Joe Floyd and Sons. Anderson Pool Works was chosen to complete the splash pad.
"The splash pad would not have happened without what they have done," said Project Coordinator Wayne Looney.
The attraction sports several Western themed features on the concrete pad that spray water as well as several other jets in the pad itself. The surrounding land to the south and west is terraced to provide parents and others a place to sit while the children play and a shading structure will be installed to shield adults and other supervising visitors from the summer sun. Those who prefer benches can find several placed along the outer edge of the pad.
Surrounding the terraces is a decorative wooden fence, concrete staircase leads down to the splash pad and a concrete sidewalk/ramp provides access to a new public restroom that doubles as an equipment room.
Though the splash pad was operational and a huge hit with local kids, Looney pointed out that the attraction is still not at its peak entertainment level. He said that Anderson Pool Works will return within the next week to make some adjustments that will enable more use of the water features — only 50 percent were running Wednesday. Also, the splash pad was operating manually, meaning someone had to turn everything on and back off again. Upcoming work will enable it to run automatically on a regular basis.
The splash pad may have opened later than anyone hoped it would, but Looney is confident people will still have plenty of days to use it.
"Obviously, we are later than we wanted to be, but there is a pool heater in there that will heat the water to about 90 degrees," he said. "So we will be able to stay open a lot longer than a normal splash pad."
If Wednesday afternoon is any indication, that should be welcomed news.
Businesses and organizations participating in the grand opening include:
Central Oregon Block & BrickCity of Prineville
Club Pioneer & Dillons Grill
EOFF Electric Supply
First Interstate Bank
Ford Family Foundation
Fortis Construction Inc.
Knife River Corp.
Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce
Pete & Linda Smith
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