BY GABE LICHT
Our office was closed the Friday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend, but that doesn’t mean news wasn’t happening.
Covering the Memorial Day parade and program is always a given. This year, there was also news happening Friday, as the Delano Splashpad opened for the first time, and I wanted to be there to document it.
I envisioned a line of people waiting for the splash pad to open. I’d get there early to walk down the line, take note of the kids’ names, and get permission from their guardians to take their photos and use their names.
My vision didn’t quite come to fruition, as there wasn’t a line, but a steady stream of people wanting to be among the first to try out the new facility at Central Park. It actually worked better than I envisioned, as I was able to talk to everyone either before or after they bought their tickets without having to rush through a line of people.
I was feeling pretty good about this, and was able to focus on taking photos without having to worry about whether or not they would want to be in the paper or in our photo gallery, which can be found at photos.delanoheraldjournal.com, by the way.
After getting a number of photos of the first 15 or so people trying out all the new water features, I went on my merry way to enjoy the rest of my long weekend.
Monday, I went back to work documenting Delano’s Memorial Day observance.
Despite the hot sun, more than 200 people took part in paying tribute to those lost while defending our country.
Once again, I enjoyed covering the event.
Fast-forward to Wednesday, when I was working to prepare my coverage of the weekend’s happenings.
My notes with all the names and a couple quotes from my time at the splash pad was nowhere to be found.
I flipped through my notebook many times, and had my wife, Sarah, do the same to make sure I wasn’t going crazy. I scoured my desk. I checked pockets. I looked in my vehicle.
That note page was nowhere to be found, and I suspect it came detached while I was using my notebook during the Memorial Day event.
This bothered me even more than it usually would because I had had a plan in place, and followed it, and was hoping for a rewarding payoff. Instead, I would have to settle for photos without names attached. If there was one silver lining, it was that, at least, I knew the kids’ guardians were OK with their photos being in the paper.
So, I’ll carry on, though my plans didn’t pan out the way I had hoped.
The bigger picture is that the plans of many in the community came to fruition when the splash pad opened.
For years, a splash pad was on the city’s wish list, but the city council was hesitant to pay for it with tax dollars.
Enter the General Federated Women’s Club of Delano into the equation.
GFWC members did their research and started conversations with representatives of aquatix a division of Landscape Structures and city staff.
Landscape Structures agreed to split the cost of the equipment with the city, which funded much of the remainder with proceeds from liquor sales. It’s a great example of a private-public partnership.
But the story didn’t end there, as there were many decisions to be made.
Delano’s Park and Recreation Commission discussed many items and made recommendations to the council, which discussed them more, with input from city staff.
Administrative intern Justin Markon deserves a special shout-out, as he did much of the legwork and research related to the splash pad.
But, it truly was a team effort.
While the logistics of planning, funding, and operating the splash pad and adjacent concession building were being hammered out, Lynn and Marissa Bartels took on the challenge of making sure everyone who wanted to enjoy the facility would be able to do so, regardless of physical limitations. They spearheaded an effort to provide aquatic wheelchairs, and many in the community contributed to that cause.
I’m sure I’m missing someone who played a role in this project. Even if I did, please know that you are appreciated.
Now, the success of this project hinges on people in Delano and surrounding communities taking advantage of this amenity, and providing feedback.
If Friday, and the opening weekend as a whole, was any indication, that will certainly be the case.