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Families splash through the heat at the Hill Y in Westminster

With high temperatures and humidity on Thursday, some Carroll families found relief from the heat at the splash pad at the Hill Y in Westminster, newly opened this summer.

The 4,200-square-foot addition to the YMCA opened June 9 and has 12 water features, including tall, cactus-shaped water sprinklers, mushroom-shaped fountains and vertical jets, according to Karen Farley, membership director. She said it is the first splash pad in the Westminster area.

"It's a joy to watch the little ones," Farley said. "I'd love to be outside visiting a waterfall, and this is about as close as I can get."

According to the National Weather Service, it didn't get quite as hot as was forecast Thursday, but temperatures reached 88 in Westminster with 55 percent humidity.

Kristen Gill, of Gamber, was at the splash pad Thursday with her children, Allie, 9, and Jenna, 5. She said they have visited the splash pad several times, and she said she appreciates how much physical activity her kids get there, "maybe even more than swimming. It's a lot of active play."

She said the family had previously tried to beat the heat at a local swimming hole, but Jenna was frightened when she saw a snake near the water, so the splash pad was a nice alternative.

Jenna said her favorite part of the splash pad was running through the showers from the tall blue water features. Her sister, Allie said the splash pad was one of her favorite ways to keep cool in the summer.

David George, 9, and his brother Joshua, 4, were visiting the splash pad after their swim lessons at the Y. David said he and his brother enjoy doing a "challenge" where they make their way through each water feature as quickly as possible. Their mother, Simonee George, said the family really enjoys the splash pad and had visited several times.

One of the youngest people enjoying the water was 2-year-old Amerlina Carlucci, who spent Thursday afternoon splashing through the vertical jets.

"She's like a little fish," said her mother, Kelly Carlucci.

The family was very excited to hear about the splash pad.

"We waited for months for it to be built," Kelly Carlucci said, noting that the Westminster location is more convenient than another splash pad they had previously visited in Baltimore County.

The splash pad is open to members of the YMCA and children who participate in their community camps during the summer. It is also open to the public during community nights, which require preregistration. A Caribbean Family Event on Friday, July 14 is already filled, but they plan to schedule other events throughout July and August.

The next already on the schedule is a Youth Night on Aug. 12, which will include crafts, activities and a showing of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Admission is $8. More information is available at 410-848-3600 or ymayland.org

Farley said the proceeds from these events allow lower-income children to attend YMCA summer camps. They are open to children from kindergarten to age 17.

She said the community nights are a good way to balance welcoming the community and ensuring that YMCA members have use of the facilities.

"We like the community to see what we do and experience our festivities," she said.

crighter@baltsun.com

410-857-3315

twitter.com/Cat_Righter

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