MERIDEN — Open all summer long, the splash pad at City Park provides kids with a cool oasis and a “momma bear” to look after them.
The self-described “momma bear” is Eva Kim Marquez, splash pad supervisor for 11 years.
“My job is to show kids that they're important and to show them this is for them,” she said.
The splash pad is open seven days a week in the afternoons. City Park is located along Park Avenue.
Marquez also makes sure every child gets a snack and teaches them to be respectful, including cleaning up after themselves.
“I believe that all the kids should have a great summer and this is the place for them to come and enjoy themselves,” she said.
Lifelong city resident Rose Orriola said she’s been bringing her grandchildren to the park for years.
“They love it here, this is great,” Orriola said while visiting Tuesday.
She said Marquez goes beyond her job responsibilities for the kids.
“This is their home away from home,” Orriola said. “She really looks out for the kids.”
Marquez turns off the water periodically to give children time to eat lunch or to give out snacks
For a while, Marquez would gather the snacks herself but now parents and other community members donate many of the items she gives out. Yesterday, a parent brought her a refrigerator so she can store ice pops, juice boxes and other food.
The Meriden Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services Department Summer Meals Program sets up right outside the splash pad Monday through Friday, from about 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. The program provides free meals to children 18 and younger.
The splash pad is open all summer, Monday through Saturday from noon to around 5:30 p.m., sometimes later. On Sunday, it opens at 1 p.m. to around 5:30 p.m. You don’t have to be a Meriden resident to use the splash pad.