Make a splash

Children have fun Friday with the water jets lining one of the pools at River Springs Water Park in Owatonna. The park opened for the season on Thursday. (William Morris/People’s Press)

OWATONNA — The water park season in Owatonna couldn’t have gotten of to a nicer start.

Schools ended for the summer on Wednesday, and River Springs Water Park in Owatonna opened for the season on Thursday to blue skies and warm weather. Friday too was beautiful, with puffy clouds and a light breeze overhead as visitors swarmed the water slide, lazy river, climbing wall and more.

“[Our goal this year is] same as any year: safety for people, everyone has a good time, and have a great amenity for our community,” Owatonna Assistant Recreation Director Eric Anderson said.

Good weather helped propel the park, which is owned by the city, to a bumper year in 2014, and the city is hoping the weather again brings crowds to River Springs. A two-month forecast for Minneapolis at calls for above-average temperatures in June and July, with about average amounts of rainfall.

At the National Weather Service office in Chanhassen, though, meteorologist Tony Zaleski says long-range climate forecasts are still about even for the odds of average, above-average or below average summer temperatures or rainfall.

“We have one model that’s been pretty accurate, and for the month of June, it looks like it’s going to be more of the same of what we’ve been seeing in May, which is normal temperatures but occasionally dipping below average,” he said.

Either way, Anderson says the city can only plan on what each day brings.

“I just keep track of what we can do each day, and that’s about the best we can do,” he said.

And the season could be a long one this year as well. The Steele County Free Fair and Labor Day are later than normal this year, falling on Aug. 18 and Sept. 7, respectively. Anderson said it’s not clear what effect that might have on the water park.

“It may or may not. It all depends on when we have groups coming in,” he said.

The park offers numerous specials and themed deals, including Grandparents Day (SeniorPlace members get discounts), Wednesday Family Night and more, which Anderson said is part of making the park available to as many residents as possible.

“We’ve got ... plenty of opportunities for people to come out and enjoy the water park,” he said.

William Morris is a reporter for the Owatonna People’s Press. He can be reached at 444-2372; follow him on Twitter @OPPWilliam

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