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New Crookston play area makes a big splash

CROOKSTON--A park in Crookston is making a big splash. About 200 children shrieked as they darted in and out of the cold spray of a long-awaited splash park, which opened 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Crookston's Highland Park. Some filled water cannons ...

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Highland Park in Crookston opens their splash park in Crookston, Minn. on June 16, 2016. (Meg Oliphant/Grand Forks Herald)

CROOKSTON-A park in Crookston is making a big splash.

About 200 children shrieked as they darted in and out of the cold spray of a long-awaited splash park, which opened 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Crookston's Highland Park. Some filled water cannons while others chased their friends with foam pool noodles. Around the pad, parents and grandparents waited with phones and cameras, ready to capture the moment.

Shirley Iverson, one of the main organizers behind the local splash park, watched from the sidelines, looking not the least bit wet.

"I'm going in next," she said, laughing.

Iverson, who helped raise funds for the park for more than two years, said the opening of the splash park is big for the city.

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"The weather is perfect," she said. "We've worked hard for this. It's the best reward at the end of a long process."

To celebrate the occasion, Iverson and event organizers prepared enough food for 400 people. There was live entertainment on a makeshift bandstand, as well as strolling mascots and face painting for children.

Lora Schehr, her father, Trig, and her niece, Jazemend, 8, all of Crookston, ate hot dogs, carrots and nachos under a tented picnic area before the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Lora Schehr said they visited the splash park in Grand Forks at least once a month.

Now that the Crookston one has opened, "we'll probably just mix it up now," she said.

In another part of the picnic area, Linneah French, 13, was taking requests for face painting.

She said her 11-year-old brother, Georgie, who sported a painted eyepatch, twirly mustache, heart and emoji on his face, was her "masterpiece."

Painted mustaches became a popular request after he started walking around with one, Linneah said.

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"He is a walking billboard," she said.

Crookston resident Tom Amiot, 72, came to the water park to put up signs about the free lunch program for children.

"It's such a nice event," he said of the splash park opening.

Now that the splash park is open for summer, Amiot, who volunteers for the free lunch program, said he estimates they'll see double the number of children coming at lunchtime compared to last year.

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