By ALLEN RAU
If the blazing temperatures the region has experienced recently are too hot to handle, a visit to Wetlands Water Park at Persimmon Ridge will most certainly ease the suffering.
While temperatures have been in the 90s over the past few weeks, business at the park has been booming.
“Our first Saturday in June we set a record here,” Wetlands Water Park Director Matt Townsend said recently. “The following weekend we set a three-day record.
“We beat our June month this year (over) last year, and that’s even with those four days of rain we’ve had.”
Wetlands, which will soon be 25 years old, saw just under 1,400 visitors on that record-setting Saturday. And while the crowds have descended on the park over the past month, this year has been rain-soaked.
“We’ve had a lot of rain. I want to say we’ve seen rain at least 12 days. It’s been a battle with the weather this year. But the good thing is that the good weather has been fantastic. It’s been 90 (degrees). Just crazy.”
Townsend recommends getting to the park early if you plan on coming, as the chairs tend to get snagged quickly. He also recommends bringing sunscreen and floaties for the little ones.
Wetlands offers swimming lessons for those interested, with one session left this summer.
The final session is from Monday, July 16, to Thursday, July 19. There are a limited number of slots available. Those who are interested should contact Wetlands Water Park at (423) 753-1553. The cost is $60 per session.
Season passes are an option along with daily passes, and private parties at the facility are available.
“We do after hours parties from 6 to 8 p.m., after we close down,” Townsend said.
“They bring a bunch of their own things, they bring their people in. They can bring in food. All we do is supply the pool and the aquatic staff.
“We (could) keep the café open for them but it tends to be cheaper for them if they just bring their own stuff in.”
One such special event was “Praise by the Pool”.
“It’s a $3 night. And that’s geared towards vacation Bible schools,” the director said.
The event, was held on Sunday, July 8.
Another July special event is “Fun for all Friday” on July 27. The pool will extend its hours from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. and a movie will play at 8:45 p.m. at Persimmon Ridge Ballfield.
Wetlands Water Park will be open with regular hours until Washington County schools begin. Beginning Aug. 5, the park will be open only on weekends. The park closes Sept. 3.
Other services offered by the park are a full service café, lockers for rent, shower/restroom facilities and tube rentals. Some of the water-park related rides include a lazy river, a rain tree and 80 foot, 100 foot and 200 foot fiberglass slides.
While there are plenty of features to keep your attention, there are fully trained lifeguards that keep their attention on the patrons.
“They’re American Red Cross Certified Lifeguards, which is a five day course they have to go through. Anyone that works on our slides, they’re all CPR and first aid supervisors,” Townsend said.
“So everyone out on the pool has some kind of first aid training in case anyone needs anything.”
He added that the average of “saves” per day is just under three, but that there have been no major safety incidents.
“We have a lot of smaller kids that come here. It’s usually just inexperienced swimmers. They get out in the deep end and they lose track of where they are and they panic.”
Townsend, who is in his seventh full year as director of the water park, is also the Assistant Parks and Rec Director for the Town of Jonesborough. He helps out with activities downtown as well as Little League and youth soccer.
Asked what his one wish is for the park, he responded,
”A retractable dome. That way if it rained, we would stay open and everyone would be happy.”
Normal business hours for Wetlands Water Park are Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Half-priced tickets go on sale at 3 p.m. Information is available at (423) 753-1553.