Tara Burghart Monday, June 28, 2010 at 2:10PM
Shhh. I have a secret. Just don’t let my friends on the east side of Geneva know that I told you.
Geneva’s Moore Park holds a little treasure: Whether you want to call it a splash park or a sprayground, it’s fabulous, fun and free. The sprayground has actually been open in this neighborhood park for five years now, and while it’s certainly been busy the times I’ve visited this summer, it has not been overcrowded.
As someone who grew up thinking that an afternoon on a “slip ‘n slide” in my neighbor’s yard was the apex of summer fun, modern spraygrounds still amaze me, no matter how many times I take my daughter to them. In fact, the first time we visited Moore Park, my mouth hurt afterward because I had a smile on my face the whole time -- she probably would have told me the same, had she been able to talk yet!
The colorful, 2,100-square-foot sprayground has a rubber-cushioned surface and about 10 separate water features, including cannons that kids can aim high into the air or (more likely) each other, rings that shoot a heavy mist and are large enough for kids to run underneath them, and “mushrooms” that have water running down their “caps.”
The sprayground is surrounded by a wrought iron fence and includes four benches shaded by canopies. For the less adventurous parent/grandparent, there are a few benches right outside the splash park as well as a pavilion with two picnic tables, a large traditional playground and a swing set that includes a baby swing.
Geneva park district officials have said in the past that the sprayground was designed for kids 10 and younger, and they did a great job in creating some spots that are better for toddlers (like the place where water gently bubbles up from the ground) and some that are better for the older kids (did I mention the water cannons?) But if you have a younger one, on a crowded day you’ll want to stay close to make sure she doesn’t get trampled – some “tweens” were playing a vigorous game of tag when I visited on a steamy late afternoon recently.
Now the Moore Park sprayground is on the small side, especially when you compare it to something like the Otter Cover Splash Park in St. Charles. But again, it’s free, whereas a non-resident child pays $6 at Otter Cove. That means you can throw your kids into their swimming suits and head to Moore Park for a spur-of-the-moment outing without feeling like you have to pack for an hours-long adventure, like I do when we visit Otter Cove. (By the way, I also love Otter Cove and will soon have a feature about it, too.)
The park is easy to get to, but a little hidden. If you are heading east on State Street, turn left onto East Side Drive (by the CVS) and head north just a few blocks. Turn right on Geneva Drive and you’lll soon see the Moore Park sign. Head back into the park, and you’ll spot a parking lot just outside the sprayground. Those coming from the north may find it easier to take Kirk Road and turn right (west) onto Geneva Drive and head to the park that way.
The hours are a bit funky. The sprayground opens at 10 a.m. all seven days and is open until 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Friday, Saturday and Sunday it closes at 6 p.m.
By the way, I’m not sure what is sadder: Trying to pull your joyous kid away from such fun or waiting until the park district employee shows up to turn off the water. When that happens, all the remaining kids gather around the one still-gurgling play area like a scene out of some post-apocalypic film where water is scarce. No, actually, I know what is more sad!