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Splash pad opens to the delight of Caribou children

CARIBOU, Maine — After years of anticipation, the Caribou Parks & Recreation Department finally unveiled the city’s new splash pad on Saturday, July 10.

Since the park opened, it’s been packed with kids every day, Parks & Rec Superintendent Gary Marquis said. Late on Tuesday morning, the park was already in full swing, with more than a dozen children splashing around and running through sprinklers. As new kids arrive at the park, they sprint into the water to join the action.

“So far, the response is right there,” Marquis said, nodding to the kids playing nearby. “It’s been wonderful — kids have been laughing, having fun.”

Construction on the project began in May of this year and wrapped up just before the park opened. While the recreation staff had been aiming for a July 4 opening, they were delayed, in no small part because they did much of the ground work themselves, rather than outsourcing to a contractor. Under the hot sun on Tuesday, Marquis was operating a heavy lawn roller and putting final touches on the grounds.

Seeing the park finally open to kids was hugely gratifying, Marquis said. 

The project was initially approved in 2014, but construction of the new Caribou Community School just across the street on the land that used to be Teague Park pushed the splash pad down the list of city priorities. Not only that, but in 2015 the department had to give up a $100,000 grant they’d received for the splash pad because during the land shuffle, they had nowhere to put the pad.

Donations from townspeople — including $20,000 from the Willey Family and $10,000 from town Councilor Doug Morrell and his wife, Jen — helped to save the project along with a significant draw from the city’s reserve accounts.

At a July 12 meeting of the Caribou City Council, Events & Marketing Director Christina Kane-Gibson recognized the Parks & Rec staff for their patience and hands-on work throughout the splash pad odyssey. 

“Having a servant’s heart means to not only put others’ needs ahead of our own, but to serve with the right motivation,” Kane-Gibson said. “The Caribou Parks & Rec Department are true leaders who prove every day that their motivation is the betterment of the Caribou community.”

CARIBOU, Maine — Aria Haney (left) and Sophie Bouchard are doused with a bucket of water at one of Caribou’s new splash pad attractions. (Hannah Catlin | Aroostook Republican & News)

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