Where: Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center, 1545 Community Way NE, Gainesville
Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday
Admission: $5; free, ages 2 and younger
More information: 770-533-5850
The crowds came despite the clouds.
Overcast skies early Saturday meant a slow initial opening for the Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center’s Splash Zone in Gainesville.
But business picked up as the sun came out and stayed busy through a stormy-looking Sunday, completing the first weekend of the center’s summer season.
Families spread out across the water attractions Sunday afternoon, with children whooshing down three-story water slides and scampering through spray areas.
“It’s very nice. I like the fact that there’s an inside pool as an option, so when it starts raining, you can run inside and still swim,” said Ellen Brown of Cumming.
She was on her first trip to the center, which opened last year, with her sister Jennifer Kelley of Dawsonville. They brought Jennifer’s son, 6-year-old Alex, and Ellen’s daughter, 10-year-old Emily, and Emily’s friend, 11-year-old Emily Wullstein.
Jennifer also hadn’t visited before and wanted to check out the aquatic center. Alex will participate this summer in a Gainesville Parks and Recreation day camp and he’ll visit the center often.
It met her standards. “I’m very impressed,” she said.
The water park celebrated its start of summer with a deejay spinning tunes, aling with games and prizes on Saturday.
New this year are 80 additional lounge chairs, as well as more tables and chairs in the designated dining area.
“We listened to what patrons had to say and one of the biggest complaints (from last year) was there wasn’t enough seating,” said Jone M. Taylor, Parks and Recreation division manager.
About 800 or 900 people visited the first day, she said.
“Last year, our weather was terrible on opening day. We were lucky to get the people that we got,” Taylor said.
Daily attendance fluctuates widely because of the weather, but on average through the summer, “we’ll go over 1,000 easily,” she said.
Bonnie Hill of Gainesville also was taking her first trip to the water park, bringing her two daughters and two sons, ages 2 through 10.
“We have a pool where we live and today it wasn’t open for some reason,” she said. “We’ll be back.”
Impressed so far, Hill said, “I think it’s cheap and I think it’s a great thing (the city) did in putting this here.”
She said she particularly likes the range of water activities for children.
“They love it,” Hill said, looking around at her children. “They’re like fish.”