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Aquatic center dedication includes ‘ceremonial plunge’

Aquatic center dedication includes ‘ceremonial plunge’
Aquatic center dedication includes ‘ceremonial plunge’
A couple hundred people turn out for the dedication of the aquatic center at O'Bannon Woods State Park last Wednesday morning. (Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor)

Just minutes after a 30-minute dedication ceremony outside the O’Bannon Woods State Park Family Aquatic Center bathhouse, 12-year-old Sarah Maxwell had the honor of taking the ‘ceremonial plunge’ down one of two slides that sends its users into the pool.
She gave her stamp of approval, saying the slide was ‘really fast’ and that she would use it every chance she got.
The ceremony was held last Wednesday with a couple hundred people taking time out of their midday to attend. Overhead was a cloudless sky and temperatures near 80 degrees.
Dan Bortner, director of the Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs, welcomed the crowd.
‘Less than two years ago, we had a dream of a world-class aquatic facility,’ he said, while standing outside the aquatic center.
The director of the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources, Robert Carter, also spoke. He praised the area and the park.
‘This area is one of my favorite parts of the state,’ said Carter, adding that the aquatic center ‘takes the park to another level. The facility works to provide diverse recreational possibilities.’
The aquatic center was supported by the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Bob Bronson spoke as a representative from the organization. The fund provided more than $1 million for 470 parks throughout the state of Indiana last year. Other funding for the $3.4 million project came from the Harrison County Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Harrison County Community Foundation.
The activity pool, splash pad and wading pool replace an Olympic-size pool that was built in 1979 and shut down at the end of the 2001 season due to costly needed repairs. Contractor for the project was Krempp Lumber Co. of Jasper. The new facility includes a chair lift that allows access to the pool by persons with physical limitations.
Former Indiana First Lady Judy O’Bannon called the aquatic center ‘a place where people can swim in safety and in a natural setting. There is something for everyone here.’
After retelling the story of how her husband, the late Gov. Frank O’Bannon, had saved his brother from drowning when they were children and swimming in Blue River, Judy O’Bannon said her husband would have been pleased with the aquatic center and the importance of it to the community.
Once the crowd moved through the bathhouse and gathered round the water, Maxwell took the ceremonial plunge. Many others who were at the pool for the day eagerly waited to use the slides.
O’Bannon, who attended the event with several family members, walked two of her granddaughters through the sprinklers in the splash pad area. She had talked during the ceremony about how much she and her husband had loved walking through the misting area at the Indiana State Fair.
The aquatic center opened on Saturday, May 26, just in time for the Memorial Day weekend. The center includes a recreational pool with two water slides, a wading pool with water-play features and a fully equipped bathhouse. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
‘This park has been a diamond-in-the-rough for some time,’ said State Rep. Paul Robertson, who was on hand for the ceremony.
The Corydon Dulcimer Society provided the pre-ceremony music.
After the dedication ceremony of the aquatic center, persons were invited to tour the superintendent’s house. The original structure, built in 1936 by laborers from the CCC and enlarged in 1980, had never been open to the public.
Gate fee to O’Bannon Woods State Park is $4 Monday through Friday and $5 on weekends ($7 for out-of-state plates). An additional $2 per person is required for access to the aquatic center.
For more information, contact O’Bannon Woods State Park at 738-8232.

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