Samantha Davis, 2, squealed and giggled as her mother, Malissa Davis, applied sunscreen to her arms and shoulders at the Millwood City Park wading pool Thursday.
Samantha’s sister, Gabby, 5, pretended to be a dolphin, splashing in the water as she scooted through the water on her belly.
It’s a summer activity that almost didn’t happen.
The wading pool has been a fixture at Millwood City Park since 1954. Last year, the pool was in need of some maintenance – it needed repainting and some repairs.
Wading pools across the area seemed to be falling out of favor. New splash pads were popping up here and there, proving to be quite popular with the kids.
And in a time of economic uncertainty, the city council decided to close and demolish the wading pool.
“The community said, ‘Whoa, no. We like our wading pool,’ ” said Tom Richardson, city clerk and planner. The city council then decided to keep the pool open if the community could raise $10,000 to complete the repairs.
Millwood residents rallied around the pool. Local Girl Scout Troop 2436 raised $6,800. The Spokane Parks Foundation collected $4,392 in donations and Inland Empire Paper Co., which is owned by Cowles Co., which also owns the Spokesman-Review, chipped in some matching funds.
The city council heard the message. They approved funds to hire a lifeguard for the summer and the pool opened Monday to 45 kids looking for some relief from the heat.
“I always like to think the voters get what they want,” Richardson said.
Nick Kruiswyk is the lifeguard this summer. He said he sees an average of about 40 kids a day and visitors line up at the gate before opening.
He said the parents have been very appreciative the pool is open.
“I hear that constantly,” he said. “They just love it.”
The pool is very shallow, reaching a depth of about 2 feet at its deepest point, which means younger kids get a chance to sit on the floor of the pool and cool off up to their shoulders.
Kruiswyk said the wading pool is for children 8 and younger, but often their big brothers and sisters get in to play, too.
“It’s a perfect pool for younger kids,” Davis said. She and her girls have been coming to the pool for a couple of years now. Davis said it is nice to have the wading pool, but there is a playground right next to it when they want to warm up and a splash pad, too.
“It’s Gabby’s favorite place to go,” Davis said.
While Gabby jumped right into the water, little Samantha eased her way in. She dipped her toes into the water for a few minutes before she decided it was OK to sit down in it.
Shania Whan, 16, brought her little brother, Myles, 3, to the wading pool Thursday, but he wasn’t quite sure if he wanted to swim or play on the playground toys.
The two have been to the wading pool every day since it opened on Monday.
“He doesn’t have to be supervised all the time,” Whan said. “He likes that the lifeguard plays with him.”