Jaxson Dubois, a 6-year-old who lives in Lubbock, couldn’t wait to jump into the wading pool and lazy river at NRH2O, the city-run 17-acre water park.
His dad, Bryan Dubois, said he drove more than an hour and a half from Jaxson’s grandparents’ home in Jacksboro to get to the water park. It was his son’s first time.
As Jaxson raced for the pool, the Rheuport family, in town from Long Valley, N.J., stood in the ticket line. They’ve visited the water park for the last 15 years, while visiting grandparents in Granbury.
Whether they’re newbies or have made NRH2O a tradition, families flock to the water park, which opened 20 years ago.
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“We were the first municipal water park in the state of Texas. We were cutting-edge, it was something very new,” Hee-Johnston said. “We’re very proud of that.”
The park opened in 1995 with three body slides, a river and a wading pool. Now it has more than a dozen attractions, including the 1,100-foot-long Green Extreme ride and the Viper, a purple and black funnel ride. More than 250,000 guests visit each year and it has had up to 400 employees during peak summer months, said Stephanie Hee-Johnston, NRH2O’s admission and promotions coordinator.
The park’s opening led the way for more city-owned water parks.
Hurst opened the Central Aquatics Center in 1996 and the Chisholm Aquatics Center in 1998. (Chisholm is undergoing a $8 million makeover, and was expected to open this summer until rain delayed the opening.)
Bedford has Bedford Splash, 2000 Forest Ridge Drive, with water slides and a 25-yard lap pool. Keller has the Keller Pointe and Aquatic Facility, 405 Rufe Snow Dr., an indoor/outdoor water park. Arlington has the Randol Mill Family Aquatic Center, 1924 Randol Mill Park Rd., with vortex pools and a current channel.
Euless has the Family Life Center Aquatic Park, 300 W. Midway Drive, with a river, three-lap planes and a splash play area.
In April, Grapevine opened The Rec, 1175 Municipal Way, a major expansion of the city recreation center. The Rec includes an indoor water park with slides, a river, lap lanes and a play structure.
Grapevine also turned Dove Pool, 1509 Hood Lane, into Dove Waterpark, adding slides, an aqua playground and geysers.
Hee-Johnston said North Richland Hills citizen polls overwhelmingly favored construction of an aquatic facility.
“Every time we had a residents’ poll, they would describe some type of water attraction,’’ Hee-Johnston said. “They wanted a water park.” Other cities had the same experience.
Sue Casey of North Richland Hills remembered when NRH2O opened in 1995. Her two children loved to visit the park, she said.
Casey brought her 12-year-old grandson, Colin Boenicke, to the park Tuesday.
She said he told her as they entered the park: “‘You’ve got to know, this is the coolest place ever.’ And he’s been to Schlitterbahn.”
Bedford resident Dana Sims has had a season pass for the last four years. Her 6-year-old granddaughter, Brynlee Sims, who lives in Saginaw, insisted she get one, Sims said.
Brynlee’s favorites are the pink slide and the Professor Frogstein’s Splashatorium.
“We like it here — it’s kid-friendly,” Dana Sims said. “And she can go 15 feet away from me and I don’t have to worry.”
Yamil Berard, 817-390-7705
If you go
Where: NRH2O is at 9001 Boulevard 26, North Richland Hills.
Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m., 10 a.m.-8 p.m. or 10 a.m.- 10 p.m. seven days a week (check the website for hours by day) until mid-August. The schedule winds down in early September,
Admission: $26.99 for those 48 inches and taller, $20.99 for those under 48 inches, and children under 2 years old get in free (the park offers an array of discounts).
Information: call 817-427-6500 or visit nrh2o.com.