Prattville, Alabama– Heather Guidry lives a few blocks away from Pratt Park, the 2012 winner of Coca Cola’s America’s Favorite Park contest, so she and her 3-year-old son, Landyn, watched almost daily as final touches were added to the park’s new Splash Pad.

After weeks of asking questions such as “When’s it gonna open?” and “When can we go?” Landyn and dozens of other children had a chance to get wet on U.S. Independence Day. Huge buckets connected to long, tall poles randomly dumped water on the children, while mushrooms, flowers and frogs spewed streams of cool water as the little ones romped.

Prattville Alabama opens splash pad at Pratt Park

For weeks, 3-year-old Landyn Guidry had been impatiently waiting for the Splash Pad to open.

Sherrel Wheeler Stewart

Rain Can’t Keep Them Away

Not even the rain that fell throughout the day could keep Landyn away. “We had to come today and test it out. Rain or shine, he didn’t care. He wanted to be here,” Guidry said, adding, “We’re getting wet anyway.”

The Splash Pad, built with the help of a $100,000 recreation grant from Coca-Cola, launched loads of fun in its opening week, in spite of occasional rain showers that gripped Alabama in the first days of July.

“Some towns cancelled or rescheduled their July 4th festivities, but we decided to go ahead with ours,” said Prattville Mayor Bill Gillespie. “The Splash Pad was set to open at 10 a.m. In spite of the rain, there was a line waiting when we opened it.”

Prattville was awarded the grant to build the Splash Pad after winning Coca-Cola’s 2012 contest, which is part of Coca-Cola’s commitment to helping to solve the obesity problem in this country. The goal this year is to inspire as many as 3 million people to have fun and get active at parks, beaches, gyms and recreation centers around the country. This contest is just one of the ways Coca-Cola is helping to improve the health of our communities.

Organizing a Town

More than 28 million votes were cast in 2012 for the historic Pratt Park, making it No. 1 among the more than 16,000 parks across the country that entered Coca-Cola’s “America Is Your Park” online contest. As soon as Pratt Park was awarded the grand prize, the town started on plans for the Splash Pad.

“We knew the Splash Pad would be something that Prattville would support,” said Teresa Lee, administrative assistant to Gillespie and one of the coordinators of last year’s winning effort. “It was something they could visualize. They knew it would be a nice addition to Pratt Park, so they rallied around the idea.”

Recreation plays an important role in Prattville communities and city leaders want to continue offering opportunities for residents and visitors to keep moving, said Gillespie. “I was speaking just the other day to an AARP group, and many of them said they had voted for Pratt Park. This is important for them.”

Prattville Alabama opens splash pad at Pratt Park
Olivia Payne, 10, was one of the first children to play in the addition to Pratt Park.

Sherrel Wheeler Stewart

Passing the “America’s Favorite Park” Torch

This summer, thousands of people around the country voted in the 2013 America’s Favorite Park contest, which started with getting active: Any time individuals signed in on Foursquare, logged daily activities on MapMyFitness or voted online, their fitness activities were turned into votes for national, state and local parks. The winning parks will be announced in September.

The park with the most votes will win a $100,000 recreation grant from Coca-Cola and the title of “America's Favorite Park.” Parks that come in second- and third-place will win $50,000 and $25,000 grants, respectively. Another $15,000 grant will be awarded, at random, to a lucky park that comes in 4th to 25th place on the leader board.

Lee has a few words of advice for cities that may enter in the future: “Pick a park project that gets everyone involved.” Then develop a plan that gets people moving and voting, she said. Prattville used social media to spread the message about the contest and encourage people to vote. “It takes a lot time,” Lee said. “But it’s worth it.”