Thunder Junction All Abilities Park debuts to massive crowd

ST GEORGE — Waterworks were on display in more ways than one as a tearful and emotional opening ceremony led into the grand opening of Thunder Junction All Abilities Park where kids and families splashed, slid and swung in the brand new park Saturday afternoon.

Thunder Junction opens to the public, St. George, Utah, Oct. 8, 2016 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News
Thunder Junction opens to the public, St. George, Utah, Oct. 8, 2016 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

Located at 1851 S. Dixie Drive, the grand opening kicked off as the park’s touted train arrived with honored guests. Among the VIPs were St. George Mayor Jon Pike, City Manager Gary Esplin, Park Planning Manager Jeff Peay and Leisure Services Director Kent Perkins. They gave brief remarks and offered thanks to the park’s many helping hands.

“Our collective dream has become a reality. Now we can move on to creating miles and miles of smiles,” Perkins announced.

“Three years of hard work, incredible commitment and generosity of time, talent and resources on the part of so many have brought fruition to this remarkable facility,” Perkins said while holding back tears.

“In my 20-plus years as being a landscape architect and project manager, I’ve never seen a project that’s captured the hearts and the minds of the community like this one has,” Peay said, “and it’s a true blessing to be part of that.”

Emma Bell on the on a zip line chair with safety cage, at Thunder Junction's grand opening, St. George, Utah, Oct. 8, 2016 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News
Emma Bell rides on the zip line chair with safety cage at Thunder Junction’s grand opening, St. George, Utah, Oct. 8, 2016 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

Peay pointed out the hands on the walls of the park entrance representing some of the people who helped build and plan the park, noting that they only represent a portion of the people who made the project possible.

When Esplin pitched the idea of the park to the city, he said it would be the very best of its kind.

“Let’s make this a place where people from across the country who are planning to build a similar park will come here to learn how to do it,” Esplin said.

Pike led the gathering in a verse from Josh Groban’s song, “You Raise Me Up,” after which a dedicatory prayer was offered.

Upon the ceremony’s completion and sign unveiling, a massive crowd of people representing all ability levels made its way into the park’s front gates. The procession of excited park entrants went on for minutes as the flood of people dispersed into the park’s array of diversions.

Not a single attraction was unused, and most of them had long lines of people politely waiting their turn.

Thunder Junction opens to the public, St. George, Utah, Oct. 8, 2016 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News
Thunder Junction opens to the public, St. George, Utah, Oct. 8, 2016 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

The park was staffed with volunteers representative of its all abilities moniker. They appeared as excited to be there as the guests and did not shirk in their duties to assist people on the park’s numerous attractions.

The park’s attractions are dinosaur-themed and include swings, zip lines, waterfalls, rock-climbing walls, drums and slides.

Entrance is free to all visitors, but guests have the option to pay $1 per person for an accessible train ride behind a bright red locomotive that circles the length of the park.

Years in the making, Thunder Junction is touted as a park for people of all abilities. It includes accommodations for those with disabilities, including secured swings and a wheelchair trail, among many other thoughtful accommodations.

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Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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4 Comments

  • .... October 8, 2016 at 11:40 pm

    This is absolutely fantastic. it’s open and it’s there for the people of the community to use and enjoy. Job well done by all those involved. thank you. .

  • .... October 8, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    To all of you who did nothing but complain about the park and whine and cried about this and that can sleep tonight because the park is open. ….have a nice day.

  • mmsandie October 9, 2016 at 8:50 am

    Thought they did a great job, I,m only concerns about about the kids who are nit a challenged will come and there win,t be enough space for handicapped kids.. I.m sure there were a lot of adults because ut was opening day.. I drove by everyday, and watched ut coming yo fruition.. Love it,

  • Not_So_Much October 15, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    I can’t of any other way to spend $2.5 million of taxpayer money.

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