Grown-ups get run of the Splash Pad for one night

  Adults enjoy the new Splash Pad features 
  during a special night-time event on July 26.

  (Photo by Carole Sharwarko/H-F Chronicle)
 
The thumping tones of Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” floated over the evergreens and onto Harwood Avenue on the evening of July 26. It was Grown-Up Night at Millennium Park Splash Pad and the laughs and cheers could be heard by the roadside overflow parking.
 
Spotlights illuminated the H-F Park District’s newly-renovated Splash Pad as adults ran through sprinkler streams, let buckets of water splash down on their heads and dashed back and forth between water cannons aimed by giggling friends. 
 
For many, it was the first time they had experienced the Splash Pad since it reopened this summer after a complete makeover. The previous Splash Pad repeatedly suffered mechanical issues in recent years, leading to many unplanned, disappointing shutdowns.
 
The updated space got rave reviews from the grown-ups who joined the hundreds at the nighttime event. Riley Kloss and his new wife, Sam, frolicked in the water with friends who visited from Valparaiso to act like kids again.
 
“I would drive past it when they were building it and I was really excited for it to open,” Kloss said. “If I was a kid, I would love to have something like this. So it’s cool that we got to check it out tonight.”
 
As attendees mingled on the walkway, a park district employee milled among the crowd, handing out free mini-bags of Cheetos and Doritos.
 
In conjunction with the Grown-Up Night, Homewood-Flossmoor Park District offered $10 babysitting for the evening, a big motivator for Hope Zawaski to attend the event with friends Alissa Douglas and Matt Kune.
 
“I like that they offered babysitting. That’s what really sold me,” Zawaski said. “Last night’s weather would have been better, but that’s OK.”
 
The 70-degree temperatures did keep some out of the water, but not Kune. He often brings his two children to the Splash Pad, but he jumped at the chance to leap through the sprinklers and sprays without them, calling it a once-in-a-lifetime event. 
 
Kune said he was impressed by the new Splash Pad setup.
 
“I love it; I think it’s a big improvement over the old one,” said Kune, dripping wet and grinning from ear to ear.
 
As they listened to dance tunes from a live deejay, the grown-up party-goers could buy a burger, beer or cocktail, offered by Wiley’s Grill and Rabid Brewing. In Millennium’s open field, several people played volleyball and a life-size beer pong game, complete with massive red Solo cups.
 
Homewood residents Betsy Pearce, Kris Lobue, Becky Cross and Joe Cross all happily left their kids in the care of others to hang out at the Splash Pad.
 
“Normally, it’s all about the kids, but not tonight,” said Becky Cross.
 
The Crosses said said the park district child care made them feel good about coming out to the Splash Pad party. Everyone in the group overwhelmingly agreed they would love to attend more adults-only events in town.
 
“It’s great to have an event that just the adults get to enjoy,” said Pearce. “It gives us an opportunity to have a break and just get together.”
 
Getting together at Homewood events is a routine for Felicia Tate, of Homewood; Tiffany Smith, of Dolton; and Monica Palmer, of Glenwood. The chilly evening kept the three friends out of the water, but they had fun laughing, people-watching and cheering during the limbo contest.
 
Palmer said Tate encourages them to come out to all the Homewood events and, like Grown Up Night at the Splash Pad, it’s usually an easy sell.
 
“There are great people,” Palmer said. “And it’s always safe and fun.”
 

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