A nearly 10,000-square-foot inflatable splash park is coming to Chester Frost Park — though it's grand opening is yet to be determined.
"Our goal [was] Memorial Day weekend," said co-founder Larry Zehnder. "But when people ask, I'm more comfortable saying the summer of 2020."
The first of its kind in the region, NoogaSplash is an on-the-water obstacle course, featuring slides, climbing walls, spring boards, monkey bars and more. The course will be located at Chester Frost beach, floating 200 feet from shore.
Zehnder compares it to a Ninja Warrior course, but more beginner- and family-friendly.
For two years, Zehnder, who retired from the city of Chattanooga Parks Department in 2012, and his partner, John Brown, a local landscape architect, have been working with Hamilton County and TVA to bring their vision to life.
"We were thinking about the kinds of attractions that incur wellness and fitness and that attract youth, and we felt like a water-based facility would be the most inviting," Zehnder said.
But now — their proposals approved, permits granted and inflatables procured — the COVID-19 crisis may delay its long-awaited opening.
Know Before You Go
> Guests must be at least 7 years old and 45 inches tall.
> Guests must be capable swimmers.
> Children 18 and younger must be with a parent or guardian.
> Life jackets are required and will be provided.
> Water surrounding the splash park is 8 feet deep.
> Access to the Chester Frost Park beach area will still be free and open to the public. Entrance to the splash park, however, will require admission fees. Learn more at noogasplash.com.
While Tennessee has begun to reopen some businesses, NoogaSplash must wait to receive approval from the mayor, following updated guidelines from the state — which could come at any time.
Once the splash park is open, however, Zehnder says it will take extra precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Upon arrival, guests will be asked to use provided hand sanitizer and spray their outerwear with Lysol before entering the obstacle course. All staff, including lifeguards, will wear face masks. The number of participants will be limited during each one-hour session, and lifeguards will enforce social distancing inside the splash park.
Life jackets, required for all users, will be sanitized between uses.
"And we've offered to sanitize the inflatables [after each session] if the county wants that," Zehnder said. "Because it's outside in the sunlight and water, we're hopeful that will make a difference on when we can open."
In addition to the floating obstacle course, once open, NoogaSplash will offer a concession stand with refreshments and rental chairs and umbrellas. Eventually, Zehnder said, he'd like to expand to include canoe and kayak rentals.
"But that's down the road," he said. In the meantime, he's focused on getting NoogaSplash open.
"After all the things we've been through this year, I like to think of [the splash park] as a celebration," said Zehnder. "Let's celebrate by getting outdoors, and let's do it in a big way — as soon as [the government] says we can."
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