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Francis Meadows Aquatic Center a Labor Day hot spot
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Carson Collins walks through a tunnel of spray Monday at the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center. - photo by Tom Reed

Monday was a bittersweet day for many folks.

Although it meant a day off for most people, Labor Day is also regarded by some as the unofficial end of summer.

For dozens of visitors, the Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center was the destination spot for that one last hurrah.

“This is where we start our summer, so I figured it was a good place to end it,” said Marlon Britt, a Hall County resident.

While some folks preferred to take advantage of Monday’s weather with a final barbecue, Cristi Hunt knew that she and her family would be at the aquatic center’s splash zone for Labor Day.

“We came last year — it’s become a family tradition,” said Hunt, a Gainesville resident who was celebrating her daughter’s fifth birthday.

“We’re really lucky to have this (facility) right here in Gainesville.”

The aquatic center doesn’t just have local appeal, people drive from all over to enjoy a little fun in the sun.

“It’s really a nice place,” said Marcelle Blalock, a Colquitt County resident.

“I drove around 5 hours to get here.”

Although Blalock was a part of Hunt’s birthday party entourage, others came to Gainesville just for the splash zone.

“We usually go down to Myrtle Beach, but I didn’t feel like driving that far. So when I heard about this, I thought it’d be perfect,” said Angie Lewis, a Union County resident.

“My teenager gets to lay out and get a tan, my little one gets to splash around in the kiddie area and I get to finish this book that I’ve been trying to read all summer — it’s really a win-win.”

To celebrate the end of summer, city recreation officials decided to give customers a special treat. For every regular admission that was purchased Monday, visitors could get another ticket free.

“We’ve had an awesome season this year,” said Jone Taylor, Gainesville recreation division manager.

“It’s the last day that the splash zone will be open (for the year), so we figured why not give everyone a break?”
And in this economy, a break is just what a lot of folks were looking for.

“My budget is still trying to recover from back-to-school shopping, so I didn’t know how much celebrating we’d be doing this Labor Day,” said Tina Kemp, a Gainesville resident.

“My sister told me about the special, so we both decided to bring our families out. Sunshine and swimming — a perfect end to the summer.”

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