By Sharon Engbrecht
Although my family has lived in Red Deer for years, my daughter and I have only just recently moved back from living all across Canada.
We’ve enjoyed the park pools in Montréal, the beaches in Vancouver and were looking forward to spending this summer enjoying Red Deer’s amenities. When COVID hit, we were devastated. We haven’t had much chance to build up a community outside of our family, so not being able to go to social gatherings to meet new friends has been difficult.
I first saw the Red Deer Pop-up Spray Park, dubbed “Beat the Heat!”, while looking for community events on Facebook. We needed safe ways to get out of the house and meet new friends and families.
We got to the park early and connected with other families whose kids were playing on the jungle gym and swings, all mingling at a safe distance. Then the fire truck arrived. A few moments later, a powerful spray of water, hundreds of feet in the air, was showering the field and dozens of kids were racing to find cool relief from the hot summer sun (only to screech in surprise at the first drops of icy-cold water)!
Physical distancing has taken an emotional toll on us all, so it was amazing to have Red Deer Emergency Services and first responders offer a creative way to host a community event that still obeyed safety precautions. Firefighters and police officers mingled at a safe distance while kids enjoyed the ever-expanding puddle. Against the odds, here was an opportunity to have fun, make friends, and meet new people in our amazing community. The best part was hearing the children’s pure glee when the mischievous firetruck operator swung the stream of freezing cold water a little too close to where the parents sat lounging, enjoying a break from their kids.
There is really no better way to beat the heat and beat being cooped up in the house because of COVID-19. Every Thursday morning, we check the weather, hoping it will be nice and hot. All day, we look forward to enjoying the hot summer weather, seeing familiar faces and meeting new friends in a socially-distanced way. At a time when community is socially-distanced in order to keep everyone safe and healthy, it is events like this that offer relief and remind us how resilient we can be when we all come together (while staying two meters apart).
The last pop-up spray park for the season is on Thursday, August 20 at the Deer Park Community Association. More details can be found here: reddeer.ca/popupspraypark