Petersburg first responders create splash park for kids to ‘cool off’ in sweltering temps


PETERSBURG, Va (WRIC) — It was a steamy day across Central Virginia on Wednesday and many were looking for a little relief from the heat. First responders in Petersburg came up with a unique way to keep kids cool.

As temperatures flirted with the 100 degree mark, the city’s police and fire department created their own splash park giving kids the chance to slide into summer with some fun. Around 1 p.m., firefighters and police officers gathered at Jefferson South of the James, an apartment complex, turned on the fire hose and set up a slip ‘n slide.

Lilith Book is four years old and was standing outside awaiting the fire trucks arrival.

“It’s really hot. Like 97 degrees. I’m so excited,” she exclaimed as she jumped up and down.

Book’s brother, Liam, was standing right beside her and said, “Me too. I wanna play on the water slide. I’m excited.”

Excitement filled the air as the fire truck turned the corner and the children’s eyes lit up. Three firefighters stabilized the hose before joining in on all the fun. Firefighters and officers went down the slip ‘n slide with the children– in full uniform laughing and smiling.

For those that didn’t want to get wet, there were Frisbees and blow-up balls to play with. 8News saw officers throwing balls to kids and playing chase.

Wednesday’s need to ‘beat the heat’ brought a lot of laughs, smiles and cheers to the kids, but for some it’s not always that way. Jevonte Henderson has lived at the Jefferson South of the James since 2008 and says he’s experienced crime there.

‘”Shootings,” Henderson told 8News. “It means so much to see these kids out here with a place to play and knowing that they’re safe.”

It was Henderson’s first time playing on a slip ‘n slide and for him, the meaning was deeper.

“This is a once and a lifetime thing for me to experience something like this,” Henderson shared. “It brings a tear to my eye.”

For the Petersburg Police Department and Petersburg Fire Department it’s all about community outreach, building trust, and creating a safer city.

“We are working really hard to change the environment of our community,” said Petersburg Police Chief Travis Christian. “It’s a wonderful thing. The kids are out able to smile, have a good time, they feel safe, they’re able to come out here and enjoy the community, enjoy the community in which they live in.”

The splash park was set up for about two hours and the kids tell 8News they give it two thumbs up!

“It was really fun!” squealed Liam.

Each kids in attendance received a free Slurpee coupon as well. Chief Christian says this is just the beginning and their community liaison among others are planning more events for the kids this summer.

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