Snow cones, sunshine and lots of kids made for a vibrant day in Sahalee Park on Saturday as local children cooled off in the Ethan Stovall Spray Park for the first time. The consensus among kids and parents alike — the spay park makes summer so much cooler.
Madras Mayor Richard Ladeby kicked off the morning saying a few words about the park, encouraging kids and families to be outside this summer, instead of watching television or playing video games, and thanking the community for coming together to make the park a reality.
"We had many donors, we had many citizens who wanted this to come true and with hard work and dedication they made a beautiful memorial for Ethan," said Ladeby.
Giggles, shouts and happy squeals erupted as soon as the Stovall family pressed the button for the first time to get the water going and kids rushed out into the spray of the brightly colored water features. The park was a hit.
Ethan Cole Stovall, the namesake of the spray park, passed away suddenly from a rare side effect caused by a virus when he was 4 months old. Now the park stands in his honor for area kids to enjoy during the hot Central Oregon summers with a sign that reads, "Dedicated to all the children lost too young."
Between runs through the water feature on Saturday, kids were able to enjoy snow cones, as well, as the temperature began to rise. Thanks to KEITH Manufacturing and the Bean Foundation, the first 500 kids received their snow cones for free.
Self-proclaimed best friends who attended preschool together, AnnaLynn Goodman, 3, Trinnity Clark, 5, and Bella Valero, 4, were all smiles as they dashed in and out of the cold water, which for Valero was a little too cold. That didn't stop her from having her share of the fun, running onto the concrete pad, in between sprinklers, smiling and laughing, but only getting a few drops of water on her at most.
The general agreement between the three kids, when asked if they were having fun, was a resounding, and quite loud, "Yes!"
Kayla Goodman, AnnaLynn's mom, was equally as excited about having the spray park up and running for the summer.
"I wouldn't put it past us to be down here like three times a week," Goodman said. "The hotter it gets, the more we will be down here."
Other adults echoed Goodman's sentiments, including Bella Valero's grandfather, Pancho Valero, who said that the water feature is a great addition and he is looking forward to the grandkids being able to play in it over the summer, noting that he lives across the street from the park, making it a convenient and fun destination.
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