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Hundreds attend Rotary Day
I-Rotary Day pic 1
Children fill bottles with water from sprinklers at Rotary Island on May 20, the opening day of the splash pad for the summer. - photo by Allie Dean Dawson County News

Temperatures soared above 85 degrees on Saturday, leading many to take refuge in the cooling outdoor splash pad at Rotary Island at Rock Creek Park.

The third annual Rotary Day took off with a splash as children and adults of all ages donned bathing suits and flip flops to cool off and play in the refreshing water, which sprayed from five above-ground sprayers and six ground-level sprinklers.

Small children held bottles to catch the water and others laid on top of the sprinklers, trying to stop the water from shooting out.

Two-and-a-half-year-old Allie Elizabeth Estes danced to music that Rotary Club members played through loudspeakers. She ran through the sprinkling water, trying not to get caught by her grandmother for fear of going home.

"She loves it, she doesn't want to leave," said Cindy Estes.

The splash pad was built in 2015 with money raised by the Rotary Club.

Rotary President Michele Hester said that the main objective for creating Rotary Island was creating a space where families in the community could go to cool off and have a day out, without breaking the bank.

Rotary Island is always free.

"Sixty percent of the children in our school system are on free and reduced lunch, and that's just the ones we know about," Hester said. "So they probably wouldn't be able to afford to go to the beach, or White Water, so we wanted to make sure there would be a place for them to go and there would never be a charge."

There were several other activities and goodies offered for free on Rotary Day, including a dunk tank, water slide, hotdogs, lemonade and sweet tea, popcorn, cookies, snow cones and more.
New this year was a petting zoo, which the club had come for an hour during the festivities for children to enjoy. Included among the animals were exotic pigs, a hedgehog, a goat, sheep and a baby alligator.

Hester said the club hopes to bring the petting zoo back next year, as it was a big hit.

"We'd like to thank our sponsor, Northeast Georgia Medical Center," Hester said. "They've sponsored it the last three years, and have always been a big supporter of our club and community and we couldn't be more grateful."

Hester also said she wanted to thank all of the volunteers that made the day possible, whether they be Rotary members or just members of the community.

"We couldn't do it without our volunteers, it just wouldn't be possible," Hester said.

The club is also working on providing handicap accessible equipment for the park's playground.
The inclusive equipment, which includes two swings-a "mommy and me" swing and a "cozy cocoon," -was approved last week at the board of commissioner's meeting, and Hester said the equipment should be up and running sometime this week.

The Dawsonville Civitan Club has also donated similar equipment that is up and running at Veterans Memorial Park.