Hot summers like this one always send people running to the pools, and for people the in Pocatello area, the Ross Park Aquatic Complex has been there.
Friday was a busy, event-filled one that marked the center’s 20th anniversary.
“This is a great outdoor experience, swimming experience, for the city of Pocatello,” recreation manager Stacie VanKirk said. “It’s a great water park and it has a ton of amenities.”
VanKirk has spent the last eight years at the complex. On Friday, she helped the community celebrate two decades of watery fun with half-priced admission, raffle drawings, an inflatable ship and even a coin toss.
“Typically, Friday would be really busy for us, but I definitely think we have increased attendance today,” she said. “I think its because of the half-price and the celebration.”
Looking at the complex today, it’s hard to imagine what it looked like on opening day. But we don’t have to guess because Hope Kelley was there.
She said the first day was crazy.
“It took two years to pass the bond and so, you know, it was like, people were anxious because the other pool was closed for two years,” she explained.
Serving as the cashier manager, Kelley has been at the pool each and every summer. She remembers people having to rent tubes and the slide being free, but said not much has changed.
So what keeps her coming back? The people.
“I love people and I’ve seen a lot of the lifeguards, they were little kids and now they’re adults with kids and stuff,” she said. “I just love working with people.”
With 20 years under her belt, Kelley said it wasn’t likely she’d be there for the 30th anniversary.
“My husband just retired, so I’m not sure about that … I might shoot for 25,” Kelley added. “It’s only 12 weeks out of the year, so I love doing it.”
Kelley never expected that she’d be part of twenty summers at the complex but said she’s meet a lot of great people over the years and even feels like some are family.