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Children play in the new railroad-themed Splashpark during the opening day festivities Saturday at Reagan Park. The splashpark, which runs on a timer, is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

Hundreds of children and families joined community leaders to celebrate the grand opening of the Reagan Park Splashpark on Saturday, marking the occasion with a program and, of course, turning the water nozzle on the park for the first time.

“I am so glad they did this. They need it so much,” mom of two Sherry Doty said while watching her children play in the splashpark. “There are so many families that don’t have the means to pay for entertaining activities. They need something that is free to the public , to get exercise and make new friends.

“This is such a great addition to the park.”

The railroad-themed splashpark is a project of the Palestine Junior Service League, which, with help from the City of Palestine and a grant from the Texas Parks & Wildlife, raised the $354,000 needed to fund the project.

“We are so excited to see our dream for Reagan Park come true, after three years of planning,” PJSL President Sarah Skloss said during the program. “Thanks to grants as well as the city and community. We are so glad to see it open.”

According to Roy Crouch, City Parks & Recreation Director, the PJSL contributed $153,000 of the funds need for the splashpark, with the City of Palestine contributing $126,800 and the TP&W grant providing  $75,000.

“To Michael Orht, Mayor Bob Herrington, the city council and others — thank you for believing in the quality of life issues in bringing the splash park to this community,” Crouch said. “And to the Palestine Junior Service League, who aggressively fund-raised for the project.

“If you ever need to get something done, get behind them and they can make it happen.”

Herrington, during the ceremony, addressed attendees about the impact projects like the splashpark have on the community.

“The splashpark is a great idea,” Herrington said. “These continued improvements to the park show us that great ideas start right here at home.

“What started back in 1911 became something that would serve generations along the way,” he added. “And these improvements will serve future generations as well.”

“It will be interesting to see how this park will serve the community in the next 100 years.”

City Parks Board President John B. McDonald opened the ceremony with a welcome message and introduction of attending dignitaries, and Matt Poole, pastor of New Life Worship Center, gave an invocation.

Lemonade, cookies and candy were served to attendees and door prizes were presented. A balloon release, led by Herrington, immediately preceded the official opening of the splashpark.

The splash park, which runs on a timer, is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

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Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at mrainwater@palestineherald.com

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