A splashing success: Splash pad opens at Memorial Park in Brainerd

A grand opening event celebrated the new splash pad Thursday, May 26.

Children play with the water features as water sprays into the air during the grand opening of the new splashpad.
Chase Roberts plays with the frog feature at the new Memorial Park splash pad Thursday, May 26, 2022.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — Squeals of joy rang through Memorial Park as mists of water sprinkled through the air Thursday, May 26.

Despite initially cloudy skies and temperatures that didn’t rise past the mid-60s, excited kids had no problem getting soaking wet as they christened Brainerd’s new splash pad.

“Under the Sea” played as the water came on for the first time.

“It feels amazing,” Brainerd mom Emily Rolfson said during Thursday’s grand opening celebration.

For the past seven years, Rolfson spearheaded a community effort to raise the $200,000 needed for a splash pad in Brainerd.


“It’s been a long time,” she said, “and I’m so happy to finally give it away to the community and just see it in action. It’s going to be great.”

The mild temperatures didn’t stop Tegan Bonde from running through the water in her swimsuit, especially enjoying the frog element that drew in many kids.

“You get to do, like, magic with the water,” she said of the bright green frog with water shooting out of its mouth.

A rock, flower and large tree branch in the middle of the pad added to the nature-themed elements shooting water at the energetic kids.

After splashing in the water for a while and soaking his clothes through, Chase Roberts proclaimed he was freezing cold but admitted it was fun while he was in the water and said maybe he’ll come back when it’s hot outside.

Moms watching their kids play were just as excited.

“It’s so awesome,” Sarah Shaw said. “It just shows what a lot of persistence with some really dedicated members of the community will do.”

As Nicole Bahma watched her son Jaxxon play, she, like Rolfson, reflected on the long road it took to bring the splash pad to Brainerd.
“Thank God for Emily and the hard work that she put into it,” Bahma said, adding her son couldn’t wait to try it out.


“He was anxiously waiting,” she said. “We’ve driven by and looked, and he’s been super excited. We plan on spending a lot of time here.”

Children play in the water at the splashpad.
Tegan Bonde shoots water at Chase Roberts Thursday, May 26, 2022, at the grand opening of the Memorial Park splash pad.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Rolfson took a moment to thank all the donors who contributed to the project.

“Without them this thing really wouldn’t be a reality, and that’s important, so thank you all for that,” she said.

The splash pad will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Labor Day, or weather permitting.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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