PULASKI COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — In the foothills of the Appalachia in Somerset lies a waterpark leaping from the constraints of the pandemic into recovery.
SomerSplash Waterpark is a municipal waterpark owned and operated by the City of Somerset. It was originally opened in the summer of 2006 and has been operational every summer since then.
Only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the pandemic restricted what they could do.
"We weren't actually able to open last year until June 30 was the first day and it was really difficult and really tough," said General Manager Dr. Stephen Sims.
The community relies on the park for not only fun but jobs and to support the local economy.
"Just to know the impact that the waterpark has, whether it's from the hiring aspects of things a lot of our staff, or high school, college-age kids. And so we'll end up hiring somewhere between 100 to 100, employees, those three months, and it's a lot of employees that wouldn't have an opportunity for a job," said Sims.
Based on an economic impact study conducted in 2017, it is estimated that SomerSplash contributes approximately $2.75 million to the local economy in Pulaski County annually. When people visit the waterpark, they often visit other businesses in town.
"The more people that come here for us, the more impact that tourism will continue to have on this community, and a community that's based on tourism. So we have to have those people coming in. That's why it's so important to see that at the start of the season, and not just finishing," said Sims.
This year, they're off to a great start and hoping the weather stays hot and miserable for a record year for attendance.
"This year our attendance has just rebounded," said Sims. "It's nothing for us to have anywhere from 1,600 people on board now, especially on the weekends."
After the year they've had, they're more than grateful.
"It's been nice to see that normalcy, I guess you'd say come back," said Sims as he looked around the park and took it all in.
The waterpark expanded in 2010 with the addition of two new waterslides, a bowl slide, and speed slide, and a children's wading pool.
Sims says people come from all over to visit, often on their way to Lake Cumberland.