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Water park set to make a splash
Ali Moore plays in the water at Splash Zone at the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center last year.
Splash Zone opening
When: The outdoor water park will open Saturday and be open weekends through May 23, when it opens for daily use; hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays
Where: Frances Meadows Aquatic Center, off Jesse Jewell Parkway and one mile west of Exit 24 off Interstate 985
How much: Daily passes are $4
More info: 770-533-5850

Another reason to celebrate the arrival of warm weather — Splash Zone is opening early.

Splash Zone is the outdoor water park area at the Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center in Gainesville, which opened Aug. 30 but closed within a few weeks as the weather turned colder.

But thanks to the past few sunny weekends, officials decided to push up the original opening date, which was May 23.

“The water has been warming up for a few weeks now,” said Julie Butler Colombini, marketing coordinator for Gainesville’s Parks and Recreation department. “We were so lucky to have two weeks of pretty warm weather, and we see no reason not to open it up to the public for the weekends.”

Starting Saturday, the outdoor water park will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 6 p.m. Sundays. Daily passes are $4, and 90-day and annual passes are also available. All give visitors access to the indoor four-lane and 10-lane pools.

Many residents have been taking advantage of the indoor portion of the Frances Meadows  Center since it opened, with regular fitness classes, swimming lessons and other health-related activities.

But now, the fun can spread outdoors.

Kids will be able to climb a red and yellow play structure in the middle of a pool no more than 18 inches deep — in one place, the pool gradually tapers to little more than a shallow puddle. There are pails of water that tip over as they are filled by sprayers, rings that spray water inside them and lots of places to climb and splash.

There are also two three-story water slides emptying into a “swirl pool,” or a curved pool that flows with a gentle current.

Starting May 23, Splash Zone will be open daily, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays; family night swims will take place from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays. Saturday hours will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. with family night swims from 7:30 to 9 p.m.; and Sunday hours will be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Splash Zone Kick-Off Party is planned for May 23.

“We’re going to have a DJ all day, music prizes, giveaways, that sort of thing,” Colombini added.

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