Wild Rapids Waterslide — Slidin’ into the sunset after 34 years

Mother Nature apparently isn’t sentimental about water parks.

Mother Nature apparently isn’t sentimental about water parks.

Wild Rapids Waterslide was to go out with a final splash on the weekend, but it looks like the weather won’t co-operate.

On Thursday afternoon, Wild Rapids general manager Charlie Everest was doubtful the doors would open again with highs in the 12 C to 15 C range forecast for the next three days.

“It might be the final day today,” said Everest.

“That’s happened quite a bit in the past. We’ve actually had weekends in the past where there’s a little bit of snow on the ground for the September long (weekend).”

More than 400 people hit the slides on Thursday at the attraction that has regularly had 50,000 to 60,000 visitors a summer.

Everest has been general manager at the popular attraction for the past 13 years. While he’ll miss the park and its staff, the 34-year-old facility was at the end of its lifespan.

“The water park itself has served its time. She’s an old girl, she’s ready to get a face lift or be taken down.”

He’s heard from quite a few visitors who were sad to hear it was closing for good. “It’s definitely going to be missed.”

Everest isn’t out of the water feature business. He and his wife run Aqua Splash, a floating obstacle course that debuted at Sylvan Lake this year and proved a big hit. He expects to expand it for next season.

He also manages a couple of other companies in town and is looking forward to having more summer time to spend with his wife and two sons.

Bert Messier owns Wild Rapids and is selling the site to the town, which wants to create some sort of public attraction.

Messier was philosophical about the end of the waterslide era.

“Life goes on and times move, things change. It will be interesting to bring in a new era here.”

Messier said he has an excellent relationship with the town and was happy to sell it to the municipality, which is buying the 3.5-acre parcel of land for $4.9 million and will apply for a transfer of an additional 1.5 acres from the province.

“I think the property belongs to the town,” he said. “It’s the only piece of property that is lakefront and the town doesn’t own any. Well, now they will.”

Messier said he put the slides on Kijiji to see if there were any interested buyers. The ad got 78,000 views and he got a couple of hundred emails, but nothing solid materialized.

Taking it down and moving the components would have been a huge undertaking for a buyer. He expects to being dismantling it sometime after Sept. 10.

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