By BRAD KELLAR
On a cold afternoon in February, representatives from Splash Kingdom and the City of Greenville were making plans to go swimming.
A ground breaking ceremony was conducted Monday on the site of the upcoming water park on the Interstate 30 service road.
“In about four months we are going to have a full water park out there,” said Splash Kingdom President/CEO Johnny Blevins.
Director of Sakes and Marketing Mickey Lewis told the Herald-Banner that the plan is for the park to be open for the summer season.
“We are targeting June 7,” Lewis said.
Monday’s ceremony served to not only launch the official start of construction on the park — the ground for the facility had previously been cleared — but also to welcome Splash Kingdom to Greenville.
“This is a great day,” said Mayor Steve Reid. “And the day you open will be an even better day.”
Splash Kingdom has begun hiring workers for the park. Lewis said the company will be conducting an interview process the next two weeks.
“Lifeguards will obviously be hired first, because we need to begin their training,” he said.
The interviews will take place at the Greenville YMCA, where the lifeguards will also undergo their training. The park will hire 80 lifeguards and approximately 150 part-time workers, along with four full-time workers who will be employed year round.
“I’ve witnessed their training program,” Reid said during the ground breaking. “It is one of the best things I have seen for young people to go through.”
Hunt County Judge John Horn said the park will be a destination location for Greenville and for the entire county.
“It is just one more enhancement to our community,” Horn said.
Former Greenville Board of Development President Larry Green Jr. said it took a team effort to bring Splash Kingdom to Greenville.
“Everyone came together to make this happen,” Green said, adding that previously, people would drive to Garland or other locations to enjoy a water park. “Now we’ll get people driving to Greenville.”
Greenville Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Brendon Payne said Splash Kingdom will serve as a significant boost to local tourism.
“It is not every day that a company comes to town that will attract tens of thousands of people to our community,” Payne said.
Blevins said the park will be geared specifically toward families and stressed the company’s first goal is its mission statement, “To glorify God while providing a safe and fun recreation experience for families.”
Blevins said Splash Kingdom is approached daily from communities seeking to obtain a water park, but explained few are a good fit for the company.
“We feel without a doubt that we are supposed to be here,” Blevins said, adding the Greenville location will include multiple attractions.
“We will have a wave pool and a lazy river,” Blevins said. “We will have seven or eight major slide attractions.”
Lewis said a name for the park has not yet been chosen.
“It is going to be aviation themed,” Lewis said. “The back of the wave pool will be like a hangar. Part of the lazy river will go though a hangar.”
The main entrance will be patterned after an airport runway, with lights pointing the way, while the children’s area will allow children to climb up into an airport control tower and slide down the wing of an airplane or the cargo area of a helicopter.
Blevins said miniature airplanes will be featured throughout the park, at least some of which will be visible from the Interstate 30 frontage road.
He indicated that Splash Kingdom officials will be setting up meetings at local schools in the coming weeks, to recruit employees.
The construction on the park is expected to take off as soon as the weather cooperates.
“We will have hundreds of trucks a day, bringing in dirt,” Blevins said.