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Kids have fun in the sun at Rotary Day
2 Rotary Day pic1
Rotary Club President Scott Yochum leads a group of dancers in the Cupid Shuffle Saturday during Rotary Day at Rock Creek. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Hundreds of families splashed their way to a day of fun in the sun Saturday at the grand re-opening of Rotary Island.

"This is awesome. I love it. It's really fun," said 10-year-old Jenna Allen.

Philip Sasse's infant son, Flynn, had never experienced water outside of his nightly bath.

"We put him down and he crawled straight into the water. It's fantastic," he said.

A three-dimensional, interactive splash pad with five above-ground water sprayers and six ground-level sprinklers, Rotary Island is a new recreational feature at Rock Creek Park.

Admission is always free.

Completed last August, after nearly two years of planning, Rotary Island was a project of the Rotary Club of Dawson County working in partnership with county officials, park staff and the Etowah Water and Sewer Authority board of directors.

"This is a testament of how well a community can work together," said Mike Berg, chairman of the Dawson County Board of Commissioners.

In addition to free lunch, snacks and activities for the entire family, Saturday's festivities also paid tribute to those who spent countless hours making sure the park would be ready for kids to enjoy this summer.

"No matter how many people it took to make Rotary Island a reality, or how much money it took, it all started with an idea," said Rotary Club member Rep. Kevin Tanner. "And I just want to give the credit to Vernon [Smith]. He did a great job. Vernon, you can be proud of what you've created here."

Smith drew his plans on a napkin during a club meeting more than two years ago. On Saturday, he was gleaming with pride.

"Look at all the kids out here having a good time. It is such a pleasure to see people come together," he said.

The club also recognized Rotarian Ken Grosch, who took last summer off work to serve as Rotary Island's project manager.

A bench at the waterpark now displays a plaque in his honor.

With more than 700 people in attendance, Rotary Day at Rotary Island may turn into an annual event.

Addie Maiden, a mother of three boys, hopes that's the case.

"This is the first time we've been here, and we just love it," she said. "Watching them all play together, it just treats my heart."