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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | Countywide / LAKE CASITAS

Blue Heron Playground Opens With a Splash

July 04, 1998|JASON TAKENOUCHI

Drenched and smiling, 6-year-old Antonio Medina made history twice Friday at the inauguration of the Blue Heron Water Playground at Lake Casitas.

Antonio of Oxnard and about 20 other children were the first people ever allowed to frolic in water from Lake Casitas, an integral part of the regional drinking water supply.

Antonio also took his first ride down a water slide.

"It's fine," he said after a dozen slides. "I like the slides."

Cindy Medina said her son usually avoids water.

"This is wonderful," she said.

The slides were not the only attraction. The complex was a flurry of motion. Its multicolored wheels, chutes and spouts flowed freely throughout the day, mirroring the children's often frantic play.

"There's no way a kid can stay dry in there," said Mike Frees, director of the Casitas Municipal Water District.

Eight-year-old Cory Poolman of Ventura said he liked the water slide best. Overall, he said as he dried off under an overcast sky, the 9,000-square-foot playground is "great, but it's cold."

"They've needed this for a long time," said Dave Poolman, Cory's father. "It's nice that the kids have someplace to cool off."

The 51,000-gallon playground, a six-month project of the Casitas water district, is only the first phase of the area's nascent water park.

Frees said similar projects are on the way for teens and adults, including a "lazy river" with inner tubes. All this is possible, he said, thanks to a $9.5-million filtration plant.

All will be supplied with water from Lake Casitas, which continues to be off-limits to swimmers.

But some questioned the admission price for the playground.

"It looks good, but it's way too expensive," said Ojai resident Pleasant Smith as she waited near the playground entrance.

Smith, who had her two children and two of her brother's children in tow, said $3 was too much to pay for one hour in the playground. But, she added, "I do think it's good they put this here."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

FYI

The Blue Heron Water Playground is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily for children 12 and younger. Parents, who must accompany children, also pay admission. Admission for a one-hour session is $1 with a day use or overnight camping receipt, or $3 without. An all-day pass costs $5 with a day use or overnight camping receipt, or $10 without. Family rates are available. Four free one-hour passes will accompany all day use or overnight camping passes. Call 649-2233 for more information.

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