MANSFIELD -- The Mansfield Area YMCA’s Splash Pad Park is set to open at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 25.
The YMCA’s staff, volunteers and Richland County leaders gathered Tuesday, May 21 to celebrate and formally unveil the park with a ribbon cutting ceremony led by the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce.
“I feel great. This has obviously been something I’ve been anticipating for the past year and a half -- more than that really -- and it was worth the wait, I’ll say that,” said Cristen Gilbert, president and CEO of the Mansfield YMCA.
Fundraising for the project, she explained, kicked off about two years ago for the organization’s 150th anniversary and has since grown to include more than 150 donors. The splash pad was entirely funded by this community support.
“I want to thank all the donors … It means an awful lot to us, and more importantly, to the community,” Gilbert said.
She hopes the park will fill a void in Mansfield and be the “perfect asset” for kids and families.
Richland County commissioner Marilyn John and Mansfield Mayor Tim Theaker echoed this sentiment.
“It’s great to have something like this that is for young families and grandparents to bring their kids out,” John said.
Theaker recalled when YMCA representatives visited his office in the project’s early stages.
“I see the vision they finally came through with, and it’s a fabulous asset to this community. And we really thank you,” he said.
Perhaps the most excited ribbon cutting attendee was Rain Drop Products, LLC’s CEO Mark Williams, who’s company created the park’s custom design for children of all abilities.
“Wow, is all I can say,” Williams said. “It sounds weird coming from the company that made the stuff, but I’m blown away. This was one of the most amazing projects I’ve ever been involved in.”
He remembers Cristen’s goal: “to build something special.” And with that in mind, his company set off to create one their most interactive and inclusive splash parks. It includes light, sounds and stimulation for children of all abilities.
“I’ve been in this industry for ten years, so I’ve been to a lot of ribbon cuttings, done thousands of projects, all over the country, all over the world. There’s nothing like this one. Your community has something special, something different,” Williams said.
Nearly mimicking Williams’ excitement was 5-year-old Graysen Wolleson, who was maybe one of the youngest guests at the ribbon cutting. He got as close to the splash pad as he could without getting scolded by his grandmother, Becky Wolleson.
Grayson pointed the red giant bucket -- that would occasionally fill with water and pour it's contents out -- as his favorite item, but with Tuesday’s cool temperatures, he wasn’t allowed anywhere near it. Instead he played with a smaller display, where he couldn’t get soaked.
“We’ll be back when it gets warmer,” Becky Wolleson said.
Cost of admission to the splash pad park is included in Y membership, but is also open to the public for $3 per child age 12 and under and $5 per child older than 12.
Gilbert thanked everyone who contributed to the splash pad’s construction, namely Adena Corporation and Luttrell Plumbing.
“They cared so much about the details and they understood the importance of making this project so special,” she said. “They were a wonderful group of people to work with and I’d be remiss if I did not thank them.”
The splash pad was initially meant to open in the summer of 2018, but after encountering “a number of obstacles,” Gilbert explained, its opening was delayed.
“Construction paused over winter, started back up in March, and we’ve worked tirelessly to get where we are today, getting things all set and ready to go,” she said. “But I think it’s definitely worth the wait.”
Splash pad hours will be 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday.