Featured Video: Massive new splash pad opens at Chandler Park
When she was growing up, Rachel Bausili would go to Chandler Park to hike and climb boulders.
“But there wasn’t stuff for little kids,” she said Friday.
Now, there is. The Chandler Park splash park opened Friday morning, and one of the hundreds of children shrieking and scuttling their way up and down slides, under faux palm trees raining down water and through jets of H2O spurting from the ground, was one of her five children.
Elena Bausili is 7.
“I would give it infinite thumbs up,” she said, a big smile creasing her tiny face.
Mom loved it, too.
“It’s expensive to do anything with a large family, so free things for our (children’s) ages are always good,” Rachel Bausili said.
Tulsa County officials gathered Friday for a grand opening that began at 10 a.m. It was brief, thank goodness, because a large crowd of eager children had gathered, and speeches were not what they had come for.
“I expected a really good turnout,” said Tulsa County Parks Director Richard Bales. “But I think I’m actually blown away by the amount of people who were here at 10 o’clock that are still here this morning after 11.
“And I am confident that there will be a large amount of people here all the time now for the rest of the season.”
The splash park is part of $3 million in improvements to Chandler Park that were funded through Tulsa County’s Vision 2025 and Vision Tulsa sales-tax packages. The funds also paid for a new playground, two covered picnic areas, a parking lot and fencing.
Every corner of the splash park and playground was packed Friday, and it was hard to find a seat under the picnic pavilions. Food trucks offered hamburgers, ice cream and ice pops. And the weather was perfect: sunny but not too hot and not too humid.
“It’s great. It’s awesome,” Laura Bond said. “Especially for a public park. There is nothing like this.”
Bond and her 8-year-old son, Liam, made the trip from Mounds.
“He is having a great time,” she said, as she looked out into a raucous sea of children. “He has been up and down these (slides). He hasn’t come back yet.”
Bales is confident people will come back to the splash park as often as possible until it closes at the end of September. It will be open every day, weather permitting, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free.
Tulsa County Parks once operated four pools, including one at Chandler Park. Now, there are only two — at LaFortune Park and South County/Glenpool.
Bales said he and his staff have been working for two years to come up with another water feature to offer county residents.
“I knew when we were going to get away from the pools, I knew we had to do something really different and exciting for the public,” Bales said.
And they have. The splash park includes 31 elements, enough to keep the toughest critics of all, children, entertained for hours.
“It’s more like a water park than a plain splash pad,” Melissa Szabo said.
She had just spent an hour at the park with two children she was baby-sitting.
“It was awesome, a lot of fun,” Szabo said as she headed to her car. “The kids didn’t even want to leave. I would definitely tell people, come early.”