Activity a cool, water-filled final hurrah

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 9, 2011

By Joanie Morris
For the Salisbury Post
CHINA GROVE — Rowan Smart Start had it right on Wednesday. The group, dedicated to getting pre-school aged children ready for kindergarten, kicked off the summer by helping the kids beat the heat — with an assist from the Atwell Fire Department.
It was one of the last Play to Learn group activities that will ever happen.
Budget woes have forced the group to cut funding for the Play to Learn program. But on a hot Wednesday afternoon, more than 40 kids took part in the water-filled day as a final hurrah for the program.
Along with tubs of water and toys for the babies and toddlers, there were sprinklers set up. Atwell volunteer firefighters brought a tanker truck and sprayed the excited tots with water from the fire hose — a treat for parents too, who were misted with water blowing in the breeze.
“It’s a great way to end the year,” said Kimber Huffman, Play to Learn coordinator. “It’s perfect for beating the heat.”
The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures to stretch to 95 degrees today, only cooling off to 90 for the weekend. With only a 30 percent chance of rain over the weekend, many Rowan County residents will be looking for ways to beat the heat.
And there are plenty. A short roundup of hot spots to cool off (and any costs associated) are:
• Dan Nicholas Park offers free admission to the Hurley Water Plaza. The splash pad features geysers of water shooting up from the ground and plenty of room for kids to run around.
Adults can play, or cool off in the shade of one of the many trees in the park, and enjoy a quiet moment on benches surrounding the water park. Take some dollar bills for a ride on the train ($1) or carousel ($1). The park also offers a petting zoo, wildlife preserve, aquarium and more.
• The Village Park Splash Pad in Kannapolis costs $1 per person playing. If adults aren’t playing in the water, they don’t have to pay.
No outside food or beverages are allowed, but packing a cooler for a picnic in the park is always allowed. Just don’t take off the band you’ll receive upon admission, because it’ll get you back into the splash pad for the rest of the day. Refreshments are offered at the Splash Pad concession stand for reasonable rates. Take some extra dollars and ride the Rotary Express ($1).
• If you are a member of the YMCA, take advantage of one of the pools. The J.F. Hurley YMCA in Salisbury even has a water slide. The J.F. Hurley YMCA and the J. Fred Corriher Jr. YMCA in South Rowan have splash pads for member use.
There are plenty of indoor options around Rowan County as well, including the Rowan Public Library System with libraries in most of the county’s corners. Each is air-conditioned and offers a variety of summer reading and play programs.
Check out the Kannapolis Library for summer fun as well. In addition to summer reading programs, the library will also be sponsoring special story times and even a Stories Under the Stars series.
Joanie Morris is a freelance reporter and can be reached at 704-797-4248 or