JOLIET – Splash Station will have some fresh touches for its Friday opening, but warmer weather with less rain would be nice, too.
Few things are more dependent on the weather than attendance at an outdoor water park, and attendance has been rising in recent years at Splash Station.
Mother Nature may be somewhat helpful and harmful this weekend for Splash Station and other area water parks and pools, many of which open Friday. Temperatures are expected to crack the 80 degrees mark on both Friday and Saturday. But chances of rain and thunderstorms are in the forecast through Sunday, as well.
“We’re always just fighting the weather,” Blaine Kline, aquatics superintendent for the Joliet Park District, said this week on a day when staff was getting the park ready for the opening.
One notable new feature this summer will be a variation in color at Splash Station. Pink is being introduced.
The enclosed tunnel slide is getting a bright pink painting thanks to TCBY, the frozen yogurt shop that also is a popular vendor at Splash Station.
“We were able to get a sponsorship from TCBY. That’s their shade of pink,” Kline said. “We sell quite a bit of their product here.”
The racing slide and Lazy River also were repainted this year, accommodating those who want to go fast and those who want to go slow on their day at the park. Painting is more than mere aesthetics.
“We’re in our 16th year of operation,” Kline said. “We’re at the point where slides need to be painted and gel-coated.”
The Lazy River had not been painted “in many, many years,” he said. “The people who were here last year will be able to tell the difference. We were down to raw concrete.”
Another new feature is iced coffee – something not always associated with a day at the pool, but it has been in demand.
“Everybody wants iced coffee,” Kline said. “We’re going to get Starbucks iced coffee in the morning. The demand for coffee has been through the roof – both from moms and the staff.”
Staff at Splash Station totals more than 150 part-time, seasonal employees, more than half of whom are lifeguards. Others work maintenance, concessions and admissions.
The price of admission for Joliet Park District residents is $10 for adults and $8 for kids under 48 inches tall. Children under 2 years old are free. Twilight charges are lower: $6 for adults and $4 for kids.
Non-resident prices are $15 for adults and $12 for kids with children under 2 getting in free. Twilight charges are $10 for adults and $6 for kids.
Splash Station is not necessarily a destination water park like bigger parks that have more slides but higher prices, too. The primary goal is to provide a water park for local families during summer – especially for those hot days when they come.
Splash Station is not a money-making operation, said Park District Executive Director Tom Carstens. But attendance has been rising: 58,443 in 2016; 56,115 in 2015; and 47,402 in 2014.
“We’re excited about this year,” Tom Carstens said after noting some of the additions and park improvements.
Then he added, “We’re really hoping that the weather turns.”
The rising attendance, he said, is attributable to the weather. What happens this year depends on heat and rain.
“We try to do our best,” Carstens said. “That facility is totally dependent on the weather.”
AREA POOLS AND WATER PARKS
• Bolingbrook: Pelican Harbor Aquatic Park, 200 S. Lindsey Lane; opened Saturday.
• Channahon: Tomahawk Aquatic Center, 24868 W. Eames St.; opens Friday.
• Crest Hill: Chaney Pool, 410 Rose St.; opens Friday.
• Joliet: Splash Station Waterpark, 2780 Channahon Road; opens Friday.
* Plainfield: Ottawa Street Pool, 23729 W. Ottawa St.; opened Saturday.
• Romeoville: Heritage Falls Water Park, 101 Troxel Ave.; open Friday.