It was a perfect day to celebrate a colorful spot that promises years of fun for children.
Kids, parents - and many of the dignitaries gathered Sunday in Carbondale's Attucks Park for dedication of its new spray park - ended up soaking wet and grinning in delight as they ran and danced through the sparkling sprays of water in front of a mural depicting children having fun playing in the water.
The park is a gift from Dr. Zahoor and Sumera Makhboom and their four children, sons Bilal, 15, Haroon, 13, Ibrahim, 2, and daughter Maryam, 11. They have lived in Carbondale for 10 years.
Sumera Makhboom said Bilal especially loved the events in neighborhood parks when fire trucks would arrive and spray the kids with water. He suggested to his parents how neat it would be if there could be a permanent spot to play in the spray. Two years later, his idea is a reality.
"We are hoping this little park will bring more fun" to the community, Sumera Makhboom said, expressing her gratitude to all those who helped make it possible.
"It's like a dream come true for me, just to see the happy faces of the children," said Kathy Renfro, Carbondale Park District executive director, who was soaking wet but elated as the dedication wound down. The spray park even recycles the water, she said.
The city provided water and sewer service, the park district the land and services to help design the park, and the family donated the money to make it all possible. J & L Robinson construction and Asaturian Eaton & Associates helped keep the project affordable with their services.
City Manager Allen Gill said "This is one of the fun times" associated with his job. "This community is at its best when private individuals and two public entities cooperate" to make such an amenity possible, he added.
Najjar Abdul-Musawwir, the artist who created the mural, said the faces on the children were left blank on purpose. "This represents all the children in Carbondale," he said, so there are no specific features. The bright colors represent "the joy of playing in the rain." He thanked all those who brought him food and cool beverages as he worked in the heat all summer.
The spot has both tall overhead sprays and sprays from below; there are even small buckets that fill, then dump a mini-deluge of water on the kids below.
About 250 or more people showed up to observe, play in the water and enjoy the refreshments served up by park district staff and volunteers.
Jay and Jennifer Needham of Carbondale said they and daughter Miranda, 6, hope to spend lots of time at the new spray park. So do Jermaine Ross, 12, and Tajuan Smith, 11. Tajuan said he likes "the middle where the water comes up from below" as well as from above. "It gets us wet more," he explained.
Older folks like Cleveland Matthews and Rose Laster, who can remember playing in the rain or running through lawn sprinklers when they were kids, smiled as they watched the children at play Sunday. Laster, who has lived in Carbondale about 54 years, said, "I think it's wonderful."
Sumera Makhboom said the family wants to have a contest next spring to name the new park.
New spray park offer good time for kids
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