A sad signal that summer vacation is nearing a close is Mt. Juliet's Ava Splash Pad's hours will be cut starting Aug. 1.
Mt. Juliet Parks Director Rocky Lee said the splash pad hours, located in Charlie Daniels Park, will be 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday starting Aug. 1.
"Most of our attendants who watch over the kids at the pad are teenagers and go back to school," Lee said. "Also our attendance drastically reduces due to school back in session."
Opened four years ago, the attendance each season has been steady at about 500 people a day. However, next season a few things will change a bit, according to Lee.
And while he used the term "growing pains," it's not a bad pain, rather somewhat like a kid growing out of his shoes every four months as a mark of maturing. It's more like a learning curve.
"It seems like we are getting more and more daycares who bring buses of children to the park, and it makes it very busy, and we are slammed," Lee explained.
And while the purpose of the park is to entertain children, the people who monitor the park want to increase the adult-to-children ration next season so there will be enough eyes watching out for zealous children.
"We want one adult for every five children," he said. "We simply can't maintain safety with so many children without adult supervision. We need more parents to come with the daycare children."
Another change will be they won't allow anything other than swim wear. It's about water contamination, Lee explained.
"We only have a 1,500 gallon tank and so many people wearing sunscreen, and so many more mothers in their bikinis with sunscreen, coupled with clothes detergent residue from kids who wear their shorts and sometimes shirts is simply clogging up the system," he explained.
Safety is Number 1
Clean, filtered water is paramount at a splash pad.
"We never knew four years ago we would be dealing with issues like monitoring the water pH hourly to keep things clean and safe," Lee said. "We are learning as we go."
He said there's a team of three people who monitor the water levels constantly. It's almost a full-time job.
"We always err on the side of safety," he said.
MJ dentist donates umbrella
The Zoo Crew, located at 2025 North Mt. Juliet Road, donated an expensive "funbrella" to the park for Ava's Splash Pad Wednesday. It's an expensive donation, and dentist Dr. Kirk Larson said his office was pleased give the umbrella to the park. Lee said they also donated a picnic table.
It's the third umbrella donation. The other businesses that gave umbrellas are The Corner Pub and Active Life Chiropractic.
"We put this latest umbrella in the same area as the others," Lee said. "We are so grateful for the Zoo Crew. I think because they are pediatric dentists and work with kids all day, and they wanted to give to a project that deals with kids. That's us."