MetroParks officials cut ribbon on new wet playground

A group of children clustered near the orange ribbon, waiting eagerly for it to be cut.

Once the photo opportunity ended and the ceremonial ribbon had been cut, the group raced past into the play area.

They wanted to be the first ones to use Mill Creek MetroParks’ new wet playground at the James L. Wick Jr. Wick Recreation Area.

A group of MetroParks staff and leaders, community members and people involved in building the playground gathered Friday at the Juliana Kurinka Children’s Play Area to open it to park visitors.

“Our hope is that this wet playground will continue to introduce children to both discovery and conversation,” said Aaron Youngstown, MetroParks executive director.

Parents who stopped by the event were confident their children would have plenty of opportunities for that.

“It adds another dimension to the park that we already love,” said Angela Metzger of Youngstown, who was there with her two children. “It’ll definitely be fun for them.”

Mary Beth Miller also is a frequent park visitor with her kids.

“I’m sure we’ll be here a lot playing,” she said. “They love getting wet any chance they get. And for me it’s easier than watching them at the pool.”

The addition of a wet play area has been several years in the making.

Steve Avery, planning and operations director, detailed the history of Wick Recreation Area, the land for which the park acquired in the 1940s. The play area and a spray basin were constructed in 1956.

The spray basin was removed when the MetroParks revamped the play area, with work on three other components completed several years ago.

MetroParks officials credited supporters such as the Juliana Kurinka Trust, Rocky Ridge Neighborhood Association, Fitness Together 5K, Mill Creek Park Foundation, and Green Cathedral Half Marathon with helping to make the project happen. The wet playground was designed by McCue Design Group and built by Daniel A. Terreri & Sons Inc.

Avery highlighted some of the playground’s features, which are designed to be interactive. One area is designed specifically for younger children, while the other side’s more-active features are meant for older kids. The water sequences are activated by a button in the center of the playground.

The wet play area is open from noon to 5 p.m. daily.

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