UPDATE May 2016: Please note that this post was written in 2012. For 2016, the West Hartford splash pads open for the season on May 28th and are open daily from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Get all of the details on the West Hartford Aquatics Programs here.
I can’t figure out the Connecticut weather anymore. I was expecting hot weather this week and thought a splash pad post would be perfect, but now that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT complaining about nice 70 degree weather, but, if the weather turns hot, this post will make sure you are prepared.
A few weeks ago, it was unusually hot. With no pools open yet in most towns, we needed to find a place to cool off and quick. To the rescue came the Wolcott Park spray pad in West Hartford, Connecticut.
In my town, there are two splash pads that open earlier in the season than the rest of the water amenities: Kennedy and Wolcott parks. They both actually opened on May 26th whereas the rest of the splash pads and pools won’t open until June 23rd (make sure you check back here on June 26th when I will do a post about the newly renovated Fernridge Park pool and splash pad).
The Wolcott Park splash pad is located right next to the Wolcott Park playground. It is fully fenced-in and contains several spray features.
The spray pad runs on a timer and turns on at 10am and off at 7pm each day. To conserve water, the timer is triggered by a motion sensor in the spray pad area and then each cycle runs about 15 minutes. Below is a picture of Sparkles checking out the motion sensor. Most kids in the spray pad area know to move their hands over the top of this thing to turn the water features on. But just in case you are at the park and only little ones are playing there, you might want to be familiar with how it works.
For this outing, Sparkles was dressed in her finest swimming attire and had on the must have accessory of the season, a swim diaper. She didn’t get super wet, so she probably could have gotten away with a regular diaper, but just in case. She also went barefoot for this particular adventure. We did bring her sandals, but the signage for the splash pad said “no street shoes”. They certainly wouldn’t have worked because they would have gotten too slippery on the surface. Most kids were playing barefoot but some had water shoes which would work as well.
Here is Sparkles sportin’ her ensemble. Notice she is also getting a little foot massage from one of the spray features. This was about as adventurous as she got during our time at the spray pad.
Bruiser was a bit more adventurous, but, unfortunately his idea of enjoying the spray pad involved a lot of running. Running + wet surface + concrete are not an optimal combination. Also, at 18 months his comprehension of the phrase, “no running” was rather limited. We had to stay close by him to keep him from falling.
There are two signs as you enter the spray pad listing the facility rules. They are fairly straightforward.
There are benches located in the spray pad area where parents can sit while they supervise their children.
Here are a few additional shots of the spray pad area.
Located right next to the spray pad is a concession stand and restrooms. The concession stand is only open when there is a baseball or softball game. Currently, the restrooms are also only open when there is a game going. After the pools open on June 23rd, though, the restrooms will be available during the splash pad hours. When the restrooms aren’t available, there is a port-a-potty on the other side of the playground area.
There are men and women’s restrooms along with a handicap accessible/family restroom. This family restroom would be helpful when you have kids in a stroller or are flying solo with several kids in tow. Unfortunately, none of the restrooms have a baby changing table or area. It would be nice to see some of those in the future. I mean, my back is hurting just thinking about having to change another baby on the floor 🙂
Overall, we had a great time at the Wolcott spray pad. Given it was their first visit and they are a bit young, there wasn’t as much excitement about the visit as I had expected. But, the other kids at the spray pad were having a ball and I’m hoping my kids will enjoy it more as the weather continues to warm up and they visit more often. Maybe we will start practicing with our own spray feature (e.g. the sprinkler) in our back yard.
Do you take your kids to a local spray pad? Which one is your favorite?
For questions about the park, contact West Hartford Human & Leisure Services at: (860) 561-7510
Hours & Pricing:
For the 2012 season, the spray pad runs daily on a timer that starts at 10am and runs until 7pm. In order to start the spray feature, kids or parents will need to activate the motion sensor in the pole located in the spray pad area (see picture above). More information on hours can be found here.
There is no cost to use the spray pads. They are FREE!
Tips & Things to Bring:
- Kids should wear a bathing suit and those that are not yet potty trained should wear a swim diaper.
- Footware selection should either be barefoot or water shoes.
- Note that the spray pad is designed for kids ages 2-8. For kids younger than 2, a lot of supervision is required. Also, there could be kids playing here that are up to 8 years old. Sometimes the big kids don’t see the little kids when they are having fun, so just be cautious.
- Bring towels, sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hats, etc. The kids will get wet and they will be in the sun. Simple enough.
- There is a toddler-sized playground located right next store to the spray pad. Check out my post here on that fun activity.
- When the athletic fields are in use, there is an opportunity to get some snacks at the concession stand located right next to the spray pad. This is usually in the evening during the week and during the day and evening on weekends.
- Right now, restrooms are available when there is a baseball/softball game. After June 23rd, restrooms will be available during spray pad hours. When restrooms aren’t available, a porta-potty is located on the other side of the playground area.
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