Ice cream and summertime go together like peanut butter and jelly, or Sonny and Cher. It just feels right.
Merriam residents found another fine pairing when they merged National Ice Cream Day and National Parks & Recreation Month. Residents celebrated the day Sunday with a little family time and tasty treats.
The event was hosted by Merriam Parks and Recreation Department, a part of the 22-year tradition of Party in the Park.
“This year we made sure to have water-based events because of the extreme heat,” Merriam recreation supervisor Sara Thompson said.
Parents watched from the shade as children played in a giant foam pit with sprinklers and water hopscotch. Sharpshooters tested their skills at a water bottle squirt gun “shooting range.”
A trailer set up at the event allowed kids to cool off while testing out video games. The Merriam Fire Department also had a station, providing fire truck tours to curious youngsters.
Families transitioned between the outdoor activities and the conveniently close Merriam Aquatic Center, 6040 Slater St.
The aquatic center hosts two water slides, three diving boards and a full-time lap lane. Additions were made in 2011 to include a whale slide and lobster float to the children’s pool.
“We definitely picked the location because of its close proximity to the Aquatic Center,” Thompson said. “Kids have been coming back and forth all day.”
Of course, the ice cream donated by Kansas City Ice Cream, Inc. played a big part of the day. Volunteers handed out hundreds of ice cream sandwiches and popsicles throughout the day.
Susan Hayden, director of the Merriam Parks and Recreation Department, was the originator of the Party in the Park event 22 years ago. Retiring this fall, Hayden says the staff tried to make this year’s activities something special.
“It’s a lot of standard outdoor kids’ games they don’t really see anymore,” Hayden said, “And we got a great chance to showcase our pool. Everything is just relaxed fun.”