By Jennifer Fell, Guardian staff writerApril 27, 2012
FORT POLK, La. -- Water-erupting clamshells, jet-streaming aqua guns and mist-covered rainbows provided the aquatic backdrop for Family members April 24 as they celebrated the grand opening of Fort Polk's new Splash Park.
The park, located by Catfish Cove on Wyoming Avenue, features themed water play areas where children can have fun, relax and stay cool from the Louisiana heat.
Col. Roger Shuck, garrison commander, opened the ceremony by sharing his childhood memories.
"I have fond memories of making a game of eluding the oscillating sprinkler head; the blades of wet grass that would cling to your legs; the multi-colored water droplets that reflected the sun; the joy of feeling that first spray of cold water on your back -- and, I have to admit, the indignant shouts I'd hear from my playmates for sitting directly on the sprinkler," he said.
"I think those recollections are some of the most favorite of childhood. I'm thrilled that our Fort Polk kids now have a dedicated park that will help them build memories for tomorrow."
Shuck thanked the team responsible for the culmination of the project.
"A huge thanks to the Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation for assessing the community's desire for a water park and acquiring the necessary funding; the Directorate of Public Works for ensuring that the new bath house and parking lot was completed; the Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital Preventive Medicine Team for guiding the water park's compliance with health regulations and standards; and the expertise of IPG Architect Firm and EMC Engineering for constructing the Splash Park to allow for future expansions of spray structures," Shuck said.
At the end of the ceremony, the gates to the Splash Park opened, allowing Family members to take part in aquatic adventures. The event also included food, games, door prizes and bounce houses.
Bethany Veliquette, Fort Polk Family member, said the Splash Park is a nice change of scenery.
"It's something to do to keep the kids out of trouble and it allows them to interact with other children," she said.
Her son, Domonic, 8, was excited to play in the park, describing it as "fun" and "different."
"I had the most fun at the water guns," he said. "I liked spraying other people."
Ashlee Witucki, who heard about the park through a friend, said she prefers it to swimming pools.
There's more freedom for the kids to run around and it's safer because they don't need to know how to swim," she said.
Witucki's daughter, Taylor, 8, said she had a blast and didn't mind getting wet on a number of occasions.
"My favorite part was when the buckets of water splashed on my head," she said.
Fort Polk's Splash Park is open seven days a week from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and admission is $2 for children 12 and younger (must be accompanied by an adult). The park is available for private parties.
For more information call 531-1988.