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Water slide stars in Yuma splash bash
Kids of all ages eagerly waited in line Saturday for the chance to make a four-story plunge on a huge water slide set up at Gateway Park.
The water slide starred in the Zooper Duper Summer Splash Bash co-hosted by Heritage Festivals and the Yuma Visitors Bureau.
“This is the world's tallest inflatable water slide,” said Chad Baehr, an employee with Arizona Bounce Around, the company that owns the slide named Rhino.
“It is almost 40 feet tall and 180 feet long. It can be dismantled or taken down if a storm comes in. It is not permanent. We've had this slide for about five years, and we've traveled all the way from Miami Beach, Fla., to Laguna Beach, Calif., with it and have done events with it all over the country.”
The huge water slide attracts all ages, including adults, Baehr said.
“It is the size of it, really. Every kid wants to go on it. When you see that slide, you have to go on it.”
It takes some serious air pressure to keep the slide inflated, Baehr said. “It takes six blowers.”
Jesse Garcia, 12, and his brother, Omar Garcia, 14, kept coming back again and again to experience the wet ride.
“We've been on it five times,” Jessie said as he and his brother stood in line for another go.
Omar said the slide wasn't scary. “No, not really. It's a rush.”
The new event is designed to highlight the natural wonder of the Colorado River, Gateway Park and the historic North End, said A.J. Mosqueda, Heritage Festivals manager.
As many as 3,000 people showed up for Saturday's event, which was held under a clear blue sky without a cloud in sight, Mosqueda said.
“We are absolutely ecstatic about the turn out, the weather has completely cooperated here. Yesterday we were very concerned. We saw some nasty clouds down south but the weather – I don't think we could have changed anything about it, and participation by the community has been amazing. The city of Yuma has been extremely supportive by providing (emergency medical services) and police.”
There were reports that a young girl's foot was pierced by a stick at the event. Eyewitnesses said she was transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center, but further information, including the status of her condition, was unavailable as of press time Saturday.
Despite that minor incident, Mosqueda hopes the summertime event will turn into a yearly tradition.
“We are really delighted ... We hope that this event will grow bigger next year and we will be able to get more regional participation. We are really excited. If we do this as an annual thing, we would just grow. We would have an even greater ability to provide even more magnificent slides like this.”
Mosqueda said watching the kids have fun on the giant water slide made all of the hard work to put the event together worthwhile.
“My kids went down several times. As I was standing there waiting for my kids, I was watching these other kids I've never seen before and I was just laughing and smiling because they were so happy.
“This is a great opportunity to showcase the beauty we have in the North End and to encourage our community to really spend some time here and get to know what we have here because for so many people this is there first time down here. They had no idea how clean and beautiful it is now. Twenty years ago, it was a completely different atmosphere, and now – this is something to show pride in.”
Mosqueda said the event's sponsors wanted to do something for the people of Yuma in the hot summer months.
“We do lots of events in the spring and the winter and we really want to make it a year-round thing where there is always some type of activity where we are promoting tourism and our community.”