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Toddlers take first licks on frog tongue slide as Cascade Lake opens for season 150-foot water chute expected in June


The crowd that hit the beach as Hampstead's Cascade Lake opened for the season yesterday not only avoided a long, hot trip to the Eastern Shore, but also got to see Mick Jagger.

"Mick Jagger" is the name bestowed by a workman on the lake's new frog-shaped water slide.

Toddlers slid down Mick's long, pink tongue and landed in just over a foot of water.

"Thank goodness the frog was here," said Donna Combs of Owings Mills, as a friend's 2-year-old son paddled around the fiberglass animal.

"It's not as crowded as I expected," said Susanne Flynn, who owns the lake with her husband, Patrick Flynn.

She estimated the crowd at about 100, and said a warm summer weekend day usually draws 200 or more.

Yesterday dawned cloudy and breezy, but by mid-afternoon the temperature hit 72 degrees in the shade at the lake.

"We opened at 10, and at 10 the sun came out," Mrs. Flynn said.

By mid-afternoon, the heat drove some sunbathers into the water.

Niki Irish, 11, of Westminster, sidled up to the edge of the high-dive platform one step at a time and thought twice before she finally took the plunge.

"Mom, come out!" yelled her brother, Sean, 8, from a float in the middle of the lake to his mother, Gerry, on shore.

"In a little while," she answered.

"Liar!" called her husband, Charles.

"They're braver than I am," Mrs. Irish said.

Nearby, Karen Eanes of Westminster watched her daughter Elizabeth.

"It's close. It's cool," Mrs. Eanes said of the lake.

And, she added, it has no big waves or boat wakes, so it's safer than the ocean for small children.

The lake has shallow areas for toddlers as well as deep areas where older people can swim and dive.

Pointing toward the six-acre lake, Mrs. Eanes said: "If you do the back float out there, all you see is the beautiful blue skies. And you can't hear anything, especially children."

A winding, 150-foot water slide planned for the lake still sat in pieces on dry ground yesterday. Mrs. Flynn said it should be up and operating by June 12.

Other changes include two new pool slides and a new, 72-person picnic pavilion overlooking the lake.

The lake will have no Friday night concerts this year. Many of them had been rained out last year, and discontinuing them will allow the lake's owners to focus more attention on the 150-foot slide's debut, Mrs. Flynn said.

Also, the diving boards that used to extend from the dock are gone because an insurance company refused to insure them, Mrs. Flynn said.

"People try things off of diving boards that they're just not capable of doing," she added.

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