The children began running through the jets of water shooting up from the concrete pad as soon as the water was turned on and the splash pad opened.
The park was the site of the annual Fun Day, when children from all four camps at Wiggins, Carver and Hodges community centers and the Aquatic and Fitness Center get together for their end of the season celebration, said Angie Shockley, program director. They made the trip for the specifically to attend the grand opening, she said.
“We typically have an end-of-the-summer Fun Day for them,” Shockley said. “We just tied it all together.”
The splash pad is the result of City Councilman Herbert Palmore’s vision. The old school, which now houses a Head Start program, and the Hamilton Boys and Girls Club, had closed. The pool that used to reside in the space where the splash pad is now was just a hole cradling stagnant water, Palmore said.
“We didn’t have anything for the kids to do,” Palmore said, motioning to the Norwood Homes just across the street from the park.
He decided to do something about it. He brought the idea of the splash park to the council and pushed until it was passed. The city secured $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding to build the pad.
“I feel like I’m on clouds,” Palmore said just before the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This will give the kids something to do, young and old.”
Immediately after that ribbon was cut, the adults were invited to the rededication of the Charles A. Hamilton Boys and Girls Club. The facility was closed more than two years ago because of needed repairs. Students from Norwood Homes have been attending clubs at Glen Addie or Constantine.
But the facility is newly renovated thanks to the partnership of the Boys and Girls Club of East Central Alabama, the Anniston Housing Authority, BB&T Bank and the city. Inside, freshly painted rooms, pool tables, a gleaming kitchen and a new education area are ready for the students who will start using it Aug. 20.
None of that would have been possible without the collaboration of the groups and many other volunteers who worked behind the scenes to make the opening possible said Johnny Byrd, chief executive officer of Boys and Girls Club of East Central Alabama.
The renovations were financed and completed by housing authority staff, BB&T and the city. Volunteers came out for a community work day in June to paint the building.
“Today these young people have something they can be proud of,” Byrd said.
Demetrius Collins, 9, is looking forward to attending the club next school year. Collins stays with his grandfather after school and the new club is just down the street from his house.
“It’s so fun,” Collins said after he toured the building. “I want to play with the stuff.”
While the adults headed off to the Boys and Girls Club, the children started filing into the splash pad. Soon it was filled with laughing children trying to escape the heat. Strains of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” rose above the din.
Malichi Deramus, 9, said he was excited the water feature was built at a park so close to his house.
“I live like right around the corner,” he said as he toweled off outside the fence surrounding the splash pad.
He already frequents the playground and plays baseball at the park, but he said he’ll come back to use the splash pad even more often.
Steven Folks, director of Anniston’s Parks and Recreation Department, believes the splash pad will bring more people to the park.
The park already gets quite a bit of use, but the pad and the Boys and Girls Club will provide structure for the children, Folks said. Opening the two facilities was really “a no-brainer,” Folks said.
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.