Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How Floridians Stand The Heat

                It’s hot and sticky outside.  Then again, it is every summer at this time.  Other than sitting inside in the air conditioning, where can you go to escape the heat and humidity?
                Have I ever got an answer for you!
                On Military Trail south of Blue Heron Boulevard lies the absolutely perfect place to be on a hot summer day in Florida. The Rapids sits on thirty acres and has everything from sedate children’s sections (Tadpool and Splish Splash Lagoon) to Big Thunder with its forty-five degree drop and speeds up to twenty miles per hour.
                Bet you didn’t know The Rapids has been around for a long time. 
The Original!
               I was thirteen or so when my family went camping in the campgrounds now tucked behind the huge Rapids Water Park. In 1979, the owner of the campground thought some water slides might be a nice amenity to offer his campers. He built a hill and installed four flumes on four acres of land. We rode those four flumes over and over and begged to stay the entire day so we could ride them some more.

Black Thunder

             The owner decided campers weren’t the only people who might enjoy cooling off on a water slide, so he opened it to everyone. Today, those original flumes are still in the park. Called “Old Yellar,” they’re now tame compared to rides like Black Thunder, Big Thunder and Tubin' Tornadoes.

                I was there again recently. I walked through the entire park (a feat in itself), hearing the screams of terror and joy as children and adults braved the waters. Everywhere I looked, people were smiling.  How many places can you go to see that? I even rode around the Lazy River a couple of times in an inner tube. No fish swimming beneath me there like my trip down the Itchetucknee (see Rescuing Mom), but round a corner and an unexpected fountain of water thoroughly soaks those floating by. (See what sacrifices I make for my readers?)
                I made sure to sample the concession stand and use the lockers—the food was good, the lockers clean and the anti-slip surface much appreciated.
                I rode the waves in the wave pool and relaxed in my lounge chair under a huge shade tree next to the Lazy River. I decided to stay for a while and sat peacefully watching the park slow down and start to close. As the shadows lengthened, I became aware that the sound of rushing water had stopped. Fountains were turned off and fewer inner tubes, now all sans passengers, drifted by my chair. The lifeguards (Red Cross certified) pulled tubes out of the water and straightened the chairs around me.
                I asked a couple of lifeguards what they liked most about working at the Rapids. Dan, who’s been working at the Rapids for four years, told me that he likes being outside. He says his job is fun and he enjoys meeting people. He also enjoys the rides when he’s not working.
              Katie’s a first year lifeguard at the park. She just moved down from New York and enjoys watching the guests smile. She likes being able to help them. It’s a good thing they enjoy people because somewhere in the neighborhood of 400,000 people visit each each year.
                When I was thirteen, I loved riding those flumes. I might be quite a bit older with grown children of my own, but I still love riding those water slides.  And everything else on those thirty acres.
                For more information on Rapids Water Park, head over to their website at or call 561-852-8756. The park is open daily through September 7 and weekends only from September 8 through October 21 (weather permitting).  If you aren’t up for a full day under the sun, ask them about the Sunset Special. It’s a great way to get your feet wet.


  1. I love waterparks. You get the thrill of a roller coaster and the splash of a pool, what's not to love? Oh, and the lazy river. Ahhhh. I never met a lazy river I didn't like. ;)

    Thanks for taking us out of the heat for a spell. It was fun to meet some of the lifeguards. I always wonder why they'd want to have that job, now I know.

    Enjoy the slides!

    1. There ought to be a seasonal pass for these! Thanks for your comment :)

  2. Wow, what fun! I lived in South Florida for ten years and never new this was so close to home.

    Glad you had a wonderful time and thanks for sharing the fun memories. Your descriptions are excellent.

    1. Thanks, Michael! It's amazing what's hidden just off of the beaten path in South Florida, isn't it?