Mayor Dennis Clough sped feet-first down one of two 31½-foot-tall slides at the opening of Westlake's new Aquatics Center at Clague Park. Once he reached the end of the slide, he plunged through ribbons in a most unusual ribbon-cutting ceremony to herald the facility's opening.


Westlake’s new $7.4 million outdoor aquatic center in Clague Park made quite a splash when it opened earlier this month. So did Mayor Dennis Clough.

Clough and several city council member spoke briefly to start the ceremony the morning of June 15. Then the mayor climbed to the top of one of the 31½-foot slides in the plunge pool, where he plummeted feet first through ceremonial ribbons to herald the facility’s opening.

Cool temperatures and on-and-off drizzle throughout the day did not deter nearly 700 adults, teens and children who showed up to check out the facility, which boasts five pools with special features including a climbing wall and a 600-foot-long lazy river, said Recreation Director Bob DeMinico.

The opening-day event featured family-friendly activities including DJ Easy, who had people up and dancing and playing games, DeMinico said. The event also included an ice sculptor,  magician, caricature drawings and special appearances by Captain America and Cinderella. They entertained from the covered pavilion that protected everyone from the rain.

"We were kinda lucky when it came to the weather," DeMinico said, noting that the only downpour occurred around 2:30 p.m. and lasted just a short time.

Asked whether cool weather had an impact on turnout, he said some visitors remained in street clothes, while others took advantage of the five pools, two of which were heated to 78 degrees. One of those is the Lazy River, which allows kids and adults to meander through waterfalls in inner tubes provided by the rec department. The other heated pool is Peterson Pool, which has  a 10-foot climbing wall, diving board and seating area equipped with a bubble jet feature.

DeMinico said teens really enjoyed the climbing wall and Lazy River, which delighted him since one of the city’s goals was to engage more teens at the center. The climbing wall is unique to Westlake's facility, said Aquatics Director Don Cizar.

Opening day was free to all Westlake residents and employees of Westlake businesses, but a purchased pass normally is required for entry.

Prices range from $100 for a single-person household to $295 for a seven-person household. Seniors pay $50. Passes are available only to Westlake residents and employees of Westlake businesses.

More than 1,000 passes have been sold, according to DeMinico.

Several special events are planned. The aquatic center was a site for "The World's Largest Learn to Swim Lesson" on June 20. The purpose of the event was to teach kids to swim and prevent drownings. Similar events took place in 20 countries.

On July 4, DJ Easy will play music from afternoon to dusk and balloon artists and face-painting will entertain kids. There will be additional activities throughout Clague Park from 10 a.m. through dusk, when the annual fireworks display begins.

On July 25, Celebrate Christmas in July will take place. Kids can take a swim with Santa amid holiday decorations.

DeMinico said the city is in talks with Westlake Porter Public Library about offering a story hour at the pool.

Pool hours are noon-8 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. weekends.

Michele Murphy is a freelance writer from Avon Lake.

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