It's not uncommon for kids to want to cool off after a long day of sliding down slides and running around at Penn Park, and thanks to the addition of a splash pad, they won't have to leave to do so.

The splash pad — a recreation area for water play — will be turned on for the first time at 1 p.m. Wednesday, making Penn Park the first park in the city with a water feature.

The playgrounds and basketball courts on Wednesday were crowded with families, children and runners who were all feeling the heat.

"A splash pad sounds like a perfect thing," Tray'von Martens, 9, said after unwinding from a game of tag. "I come here with my brothers, and we play basketball and other things, and it gets hot in here."

Upgrades: The water feature is one of many recent additions and upgrades the park has seen.

In 2012, the toddler portion of the playground was built, and in 2014 a second playground inspired by history and drawings from local students was completed.

"It's the largest play structure in York," said Cori Strathmeyer, committee chair of Bring On Play and director of healthy living at the YMCA of York County. "Almost every drawing featured really tall structures, so we made it look kind of like forts to incorporate the historical background, and we used reds, blues and grays to kind of mimic the colors of the Revolutionary and Civil wars."

Originally designated a park by William Penn, the site hosted Revolutionary War camps and a Civil War hospital and was a drop-off point for freed slaves after the war.

The upgrades come as part of Bring On Play's efforts to renovate one park every year, and Strathmeyer said she hopes the park will continue to improve.

"We want to add a history wall that really capitalizes on our rich culture here," she said. "And we would love to add pavilions and a support building which would have a stage. We really have a great opportunity to make it a true destination park."

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at

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