The Memorial Park Community Center invited the public to the new facility to swim during the End of Summer Blowout on Friday. (Kayla Carter/Johnson City Press)
Tonya Ward said it was her 8-year-old nephew Jackson Burkett‘s first swim of the season at the Memorial Park Community Center’s End of School Blowout on Friday.
“We had never been to the community center so we just wanted to come check it out,” Ward said. “That’s mainly the reason we came, but it was also to give him an opportunity to swim. For this summer, it’s his first swim.”
With community center sign-up sheets in hand, Ward said she was impressed by the activities planned for the event and hopes to join.
“It’s nice,” Ward said. “I think it’s a good way to get people who wouldn’t normally come to come.”
Memorial Park Community Center Operations Manager Amanda Hollifield said everyone in the community was invited to splash around in celebration of the end of the school year.
“We just wanted to do something since we have an after-school program here,” Hollifield said. “It was targeting those kids, but any of the kids could come and celebrate being out of school.”
In conjunction with family fun night, the blowout had an aquatic theme featuring a “dive-in,” which allowed children to watch “Finding Nemo” while swimming.
“We wanted to make it a big community event and it’s our first dive-in movie,” Hollifield said.
The center set up a projector to show the movie in the pool room.
Before the movie, children helped themselves to dinner in the activity room, where they also decorated aquatic critters during craft time.
“We wanted to offer a recreational activity that would attract a variety of people,” Hollifield said.
Kaydence Esser, 6, said it was going to be her first time ever watching a movie while she was swimming.
“I get to go swimming and watch a movie,” Esser said.
Esser’s friend Jasmina Pomeroy, 7, said she was excited for crafts because she likes to be creative.
“I like to color and paint,” Pomeroy said.
Mindy Esser said she likes to take Kaydence, Jasmina and 11-month-old Sabryna Esser out for girls’ night, and the community center’s event caught their attention for the night.
“It’s a chance to get the kids out of the house,” Mindy Esser said. “They also get to socialize with other kids because we don’t really know many people in the area.”
One big benefit the community has with the center, Hollifield said, is that all of the children in attendance have the opportunity to make new friends and build upon existing friendships.
“For some, it will be a return visit to the pool and maybe a chance to meet other kids in the area that go to different schools,” Hollifield said. “For others, it’s the first time they’ve been to the center. We want to expose them to the center, programming and the pool.”
The center’s mission is to create opportunities for families to get out and be active, Hollifield said.
“It’s multi-fold, but the first priority for us is family togetherness,” Hollifield said. “This is an intergenerational facility. There’s something here for everybody.”
Hollifield said the event was a great way to raise community awareness of the center’s location and features.
“We sent an announcement to all the schools. We are just trying to put together events for not only returning guests, but we want new people to come,” Hollifield said. “We still have so many people that don’t know where we are and some people still think this is only a senior center.”
Hollifield said she can’t wait to see the turnout this summer for future events at the community center as well as other family-friendly places nearby.
“The bottom line is, no matter where they are at, it’s exciting just to see people involved in our parks and recreation programs,” Hollifield said.
Hollifield said another opportunity for the whole community to get involved in the center’s activities will be at a block party scheduled for June 28.
For more information, call Hollifield or Memorial Park Community Center Program Coordinator Kelly Finney at 434-5750.