First they stood in line, shook the mayor’s hands and paid their dues.
Then, the children who were waiting for Greenwood’s new aquatic park, Freedom Springs, to open were set free.
They darted to be first in the water or first in line. From the front gate you could hear thrilled screams from the slides echoing throughout the park.
About 30 people were standing in line when the new park opened for the first time Saturday, and a steady flow of visitors filed in during the first hour of business. Deck chairs filled just as quickly as the tubes floating along the lazy river.
The sun was shining and no one in the park complained. Freedom Springs did not disappoint.
“(My son) almost ripped my arm off trying to go to the slides,” Greenwood resident James Bennett said. “It’s very well put together, and there is a little bit of everything. I think that’s what sets it apart from (other aquatic centers). We’ve been up to the (aquatic center) in Marion, but this place is twice as better.”
Bennett’s youngest son played in the splash pad where toddlers and small children stood beneath a bucket that tips when it is filled to the top, splashing everyone standing beneath it.
Many guests who were first to use the park already had purchased season passes. Bennett came to try out the park, paying the daily admission of $8, but after an hour inside Freedom Springs he said he and his wife would discuss season passes.
The aquatic park is a 10 out of 10, he said.
Rachael Ray also plans to get season passes. Before Freedom Springs opened she was taking her daughter to the YMCA and she can also recall the old Greenwood City Pool. Neither place compares, she said.
“They’ve got a lot more for the kids to do,” she said. “(Freedom Springs) is like a theme park. It’s definitely exciting to bring (my daughter) to it. I’m excited about the lazy river slide; it has connected tubes so we can both go down it at the same time.”
Greenwood residents Danny and Stephanie Paul and their two children were among about 120 people who purchased season passes for Freedom Spring’s first summer before the park had even opened.
Stephanie Paul is a school counselor and enjoys spending her summers off outside with her kids. Before Freedom Springs, she would take her children to Franklin’s aquatic center.
“Wow. This will be fun,” was Stephanie’s first thought when the family got inside the park.
Her son, Liam, ran straight to the splash pad and her daughter, Lily, went to the slide. Stephanie said both children were screaming with excitement when the family arrived at the park.
Other area pools don’t compare, she said.
Her husband, Danny, was on the pool committee that started the planning process and was able to see the park’s development from an idea to one of central Indiana’s biggest water parks.
“Having seen this from photo concept to the end, I’m just really happy seeing this — in our city,” Danny Paul said. “It turned out wonderful. This is a nice park. I’m very happy about this.”
The goal was for the pool to open Memorial Day weekend, but weather delays challenged the construction schedule. In the end, the crew was completing finishing touches until late Friday.
Isaac Hart, Freedom Springs’ general manager, and Mayor Mark Myers were one of the many who stayed until almost midnight Friday preparing for opening day.
On Saturday, Hart opened the gate to anxious visitors in line, greeting them with an announcement, “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Freedom Springs.”
The staff had anticipated worse weather than the sunny forecast that accompanied the park’s big debut, he said.
Saturday’s opening was the culmination of hard work and planning by the city and the day he and his staff finally got to put all of their training and preparation to work.
“We delivered. I absolutely think we delivered,” Hart said. “This is something the community has really looked forward to for a really long time. I think people are going to be really impressed with what we have to offer.”
Here is a look at the details of Freedom Springs, the Greenwood aquatic center, at 850 W. Stop 18 Road
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today
The pool will be closed the remainder of the week since school is in session.
Saturday: Daily operations begin. The pool will be open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
Admission: Greenwood residents — adult $8, child/senior $6; nonresidents — adult $10, child/senior $8; under 2 free
Season pass: Residents $65, nonresidents $85
Cabana rental: Half-day $30, full day $50
Phone: 317-884-2078, 317-884-2079