Despite the crisp air Saturday, 9-year-old Eric Broughton wore his swim trunks with a towel wrapped around his neck.
He was ready for the grand opening of the Fantasy Fountain Re-creation Project, the re-imagined water park at Kids Kingdom in Enterprise Community Park three years in the making.
A little after 1 p.m., when it came time for the water to flow — and blow — Eric had the honors. He walked out onto the sky blue ground, around the volcano with rolling sapphire waves painted on its surface, and moved in front of a motion sensor. For a few seconds — nothing.
But Eric jumped as he heard thunderous booms bellow from beneath the mountain as water erupted from it, the pipes and the toys in the park. "I was like, 'What the heck is going on?'" he said. "I didn't expect the water to be that high." (above left: Photo by Greg Barnette / Record Searchlight -- Three-year-old Tyler Klein and sister Jacque, 6, check out the new Fantasy Fountain on Saturday at Enterprise Community Park.)
Claps and cheers accompanied the aqua explosion, and within minutes children were scrambling throughout the revamped Fantasy Fountain.
About three years ago, Record Searchlight officials approached the city about doing a community project. At the top of the list was the Fantasy Fountain, which was in need of repairs.
After pledging more than $40,000 cash and $50,000 of marketing from the Record Searchlight, along with additional support from other community members, businesses and agencies, a renovated Fantasy Fountain became a reality.
"It's just amazing to see it come to life," said Shanna Cannon, president and publisher of the Record Searchlight. She said the design allows children in a range of ages to enjoy the fountain. (left: Shanna Cannon paints lilly pads in the art mural on the surface of Fantasy Fountain.)
Janet Miller's two sons, Mason, 7, and Gabriel, 5, were shooting two water cannons at each other. Both said they were having fun, but the volcano, which spewed a flume of water into the air, was a hit.
"I like it when it explodes," Gabriel said, his brother quickly correcting him: "Erupts."
Janet Miller said she prefers the current design. The previous one didn't seem as safe because children often clambered over the volcano. The new volcano is designed to prevent that.
"Although my sons will probably try to climb that," she said, pointing at the steep volcano.
But that was Eric's favorite part, too.
"The volcano's really cool," he said.
Redding Mayor Dick Dickerson said a child has to move in front of the motion sensor to start the fountain's water flow, rather than rely on a switch or timer.
He saw Eric Broughton decked out in just his swimsuit and towel, and asked him to stroll over and start the fountain.
"He said, 'Well, yeah!" Dickerson said.
The fountain will remain closed until the weather warms up in the spring, said Kim Niemer, Redding's director of community services. The park likely will operate between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. during the day, she said.