Splash Pad opens for season at Willmar's Rice Park

The Splash Pad at Rice Park reopened for the summer on Tuesday, June 16, with new safety protocols to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

Hollysue Gulden, 7, jumps over a fountain at the Rice Park Splash Pad Tuesday afternoon on the opening day in Willmar. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — The grand opening Tuesday of the Rice Park Splash Pad was a welcome diversion from the 90-degree heat.

Due to the need for precautions against the spread of COVID-19, the splash pad is set up a little differently than in previous years. Lifeguards now patrol the splash pad, ensuring that its 50 percent capacity of 40 people at a time is not exceeded. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. everyday, encouraging safe practices.

“High-touch areas are cleaned every two hours and at the end of the day, and lifeguards are doing their best to keep socially distanced and make sure people are entering and exiting through different doors,” said Kennedy Holwerda, manager of both the Rice Park Splash Pad and the Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center.

Though it may be different, the splash pad has maintained its status as a fun activity for kids.


“It is just as fun as last year, as long as it is in water. For the kids, it gets them out of the house,” said Beverly Albrecht, who attended with her four great-grandchildren.

It also serves as an opportunity for parents and guardians to cool off and take a break themselves.

“It’s good for everyone on a hot day and to relax yourself too,” said Danielle Larson, who attended with her two children.

"I'm excited to see more people out and socializing with restrictions," said lifeguard Jake Hegreberg.

This year’s opening has also brought about anticipation for the possible opening of the Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center pool, as another fun summer activity.

“It will be something for day cares to do," said Holwerda.

The pool remains closed for repairs currently, and the city has made no decisions about reopening pending the status of the repairs.


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