The mayor will make a big splash at the Big Splash when he takes the first official big plunge down the new big slide.

The mayor will make a big splash at the Big Splash when he takes the first official big plunge down the new big slide.

Fulfilling a challenge he issued several months ago when the new, taller slide at the water park was a far-off project and not a here-and-now done deal, Richard L. "Ike" Stage, sporting the very latest in swimwear, is scheduled to go down the 192-foot long, 29-foot tall tower slide on Saturday, June 7.

Stage told council members he'd be willing to be the first, provided there was water in the pool, if City Hall employees and others donated at least $500 to the Grove City Food Bank.

Last week, Council President Ted A. Berry said at least $700 had been collected.

"It may be more than that," Berry added.

So down the as-yet unnamed new slide the mayor will go.

"I know how to swim," Stage said. "It shouldn't be a big problem."

He will be dressed appropriately.

"I have a long-john bathing suit," Stage said.

That's not the old-fashioned garment the term invokes, but rather the new racing swimsuit developed by Speedo and Adidas that is being endorsed by many Olympic swimmers.

The special dedication day event, which will feature hourly prizes, a naming contest, a Hawaiian theme and a cornhole game, will get under way when the gates open at 10:30 a.m., a half hour earlier than usual, according to Tim Baker, recreation coordinator for aquatics.

That's to ensure a good crowd is on hand by the time the mayor climbs the new tower to take his ceremonial slide into the pool, but not the polls.

Stage said Ward 3 Councilman Larry Corbin wanted to know if the money collected for the Food Bank reached $1,000 that meant the mayor went down the slide twice.

Stage had a quick answer to that one:

"Not necessarily."

The new slide at the aquatic facility, located in Evans Park at 2831 Southwest Blvd., was intended to have been erected when the pool was constructed in the late 1990s, according to Baker.

"Every year since I've been here, people have asked me about it," said the aquatics director, in his third year with Grove City.

Planning to complete that part of the project began last August, council approved $180,000 in funding in December and a Canadian firm, Whitewater, was hired to do the installation, Baker said. Work began in April and, in spite of some weather delays, the project was completed May 14, according to Baker.

"We ran into some small issues, but were able to fix them pretty quickly," he added.

The neat thing about the new slide, which is considerably taller than the original one it joins, is that for part of the plunge, those daring enough find themselves in total darkness, Baker said. The last 40 feet or so of the ride are completely enclosed.

"It looks like it's going to be a fast one," Baker said.

Big Splash attendees must be at least 48-inches tall to ride the new slide.

Beginning at noon on June 7 and continuing through 5 p.m., contests will be held at the beginning of each hour with prizes to be awarded. In addition, a bucket will be on hand for people to make suggestions for a name for the new slide, to join Tropical Twist, the existing one. The suggestions will be gathered and then city officials will choose a winning entry. The person submitting that entry will receive a free season past for next year at Big Splash.

"We're just going to pick what fits best .. with the other slide name is probably what we'll choose," Baker said.

Because it wouldn't do for people to get wet at such an event, Baker said that Sunday, June 8, will be the rain day for the dedication ceremony.

kparks@thisweeknews.com