By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
VISALIA – Thousands of gallons of water will be flowing through Sequoia Springs this month. No, it’s not a popular getaway in the mountains, it’s a water playground inside the city limits of Visalia.
Adventure Park will open its latest attraction, Sequoia Springs, which will circulate 4,000 gallons of water, and tons of fun, per minute sometime this month, pending final inspections by the state.
James Everk, attraction manager for Adventure Park, said the 39-foot structure will feature three water slides, with the longest going 156 feet from top to bottom, and 125 features and interactive play areas, such as swiveling water guns, sunflower water wheels, constant flow shower rings, and tipping buckets. The playground is capped by two douse barrels, one releasing 400 gallons from a trap door near the front of the structure, and another holding 800 gallons that tips over at the very top. All of the water is filtered and then recycled using massive pumps to maintain a constant flow of water.
“We tested it out and it is a lot of water,” Everk said. “This whole area is constantly wet so the kids don’t have to worry about burning their feet when they are waiting in line.”
Construction of the playground in September after the company had already closed its slick track race car area to make way for the new attraction. The 39-foot tall water structure including water slides, douse buckets and a splash pad designed by Aquatic Design Group in Carlsbad, Calif. and manufactured by American Water Company.
The building that once housed the registration desk for the slick track has been doubled in size to serve as a private party lounge with a kitchen. The lounge will include couches, chairs, and tables in an air conditioned area for parents and grandparents that has a full view of the water playground area.
“This will be included in our birthday packages along with all of the other attractions at the park,” Everk said.
Solar panels on the roof will cover most of the electrical use in the building. In keeping with the theme, Adventure Park will also display a large round from the trunk of a felled sequoia that will be encased in glass near the front of the private event lounge as an educational item of interest and photo opportunity.
For those who want to be outside but still want some shade there will be eight cabanas around the edge of the water playground available for rent. The rest of the area will be dotted with Adirondack chairs as well as tables with umbrella shades. Everk said all food and beverages must be purchased on site but adults can take their alcoholic drinks anywhere in the fenced area of the attraction but not on the water structure itself. Alcohol sales within the lounge and cabana areas will be limited to the hours of noon to 7 p.m., with the exception of special events. Patrons will be limited to four alcoholic drinks per visit. No food or drink of any kind is allowed on the water feature. The sale of alcohol will be completely prohibited during school events, such as Sober Grad Night. Beer and wine will continue to be sold in the existing restaurant area inside the main building of the family fun center. Food and beverages will not be served in the cabana area or lounge when the water feature is closed.
Everk said Adventure Park has doubled its staff to run the water playground and will employ 100 people this summer. Many of the new employees will be college students returning home from school who need a summer job. Everk said Adventure Park held a job fair in February and had more than 100 people show up.
“These are seasonal jobs because we won’t be running the water playground in the winter, but some of these employees will be kept year round for other positions,” Everk said.
Sequoia Springs will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday this summer and Adventure Park’s summer hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Adventure Park and its latest attraction will serve as a lasting monument to owner Mike Robinson, who passed away last month before he could see his 12 grandchildren enjoy the water playground. Robinson, who died in his sleep on May 25 at the age of 66, was one of the founding partners in the original Adventure Park in Hanford, which opened in 1995, before opening the Visalia family fun center in 2005.
Robinson spearheaded the $3 million effort to bring Sequoia Springs to life at Visalia Adventure Park. He watched the project all the way through, including testifying at the Nov. 13, 2018 Planning Commission meeting to alleviate any concerns about serving beer and wine sales in the water playground area.
Robinson grew up in Hanford and played football at Hanford High School and College of the Sequoias. After college, he began building a home interior business that included Robinson’s Interiors in Hanford, Robinson’s Flooring in Fresno, and he was part owner of Thomasville at River Park Home Furnishings in Fresno. Altogether he employed over 125 people, who he loved, and treated them all like family.
He was a beloved figure in Kings County and, more importantly, was a benevolent leader in the community. He served on the St. Rose-McCarthy School’s Advisory Board, Co-Founding the Thomas McCarthy Foundation, taught Pre-Marriage classes for St. Brigid Catholic Church, and was the Vice President of the Kings County Board of Education. He was President of Hanford Community Hospital Foundation, the Board of Directors for Adventist Health, founding President of the Hanford West Athletic Boosters, Hanford Joint Union High School’s Advisory Committee, co-chairing the Vocational Ed Committee, serving on the Chamber of Commerce and Hanford Recreation Committees, was appointed to the Advisory Council of the largest co-op in North America, Carpet One.
Well respected, Mike was often acknowledged by residents of Kings County and received the following accolades: “Sam Walton Business Leader Award,” Adventist Health’s “Bridwell Humanitarian Award,” McCarthy School’s “Distinguished Alumni Award,” Hanford’s “Man of the Year Award,” College of the Sequoias Board of Trustees’ “Giant of the Year Award,” United Cerebral Palsy of Central California’s “Heart of UCP Award,” and Kings County School Boards Association’s “Make a Difference Award.”
More recently, he co-founded the Kings Literacy Initiative Pact, in which he solely sponsored reading instruction training for over 50 educators from 15 different schools in Kings County, in hopes of enabling more students to read. To know Mike was to know hard-work, compassion, fairness, honesty, and a wide smile; which he contributed to each and every aspect of his life. He truly made a difference and we are forever grateful.
Robinson lived in a Victorian home in Hanford that he restored before turning his attention to a ranch in Three Rivers.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara, his four sons, Rusty & Theresa Robinson, Samuel & Suzanne Robinson, Luke & Tawny Robinson, and Jacob & Ali Robinson, his twelve grandchildren, James Timothy, Sebastian Michael, Sarah Elizabeth, Charlotte Marie, Leah Catherine, Heidi Carol, Riley Kae, Owen Philip, Patrick Steven, Benjamin Michael, Chloe Rose, and Alice Mae, and his siblings, William “Bill” & Sonja Robinson, Catherine “Kay” Hill, and John Robinson.
He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers, James “Jimmy” Robinson, Joseph “Joe” Robinson, Charles “Charlie” Robinson, and brother-in-law, Robert “Bob” Hill.
A Visitation for Michael “Mike” Steven Robinson will be held from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, June 13 with a Rosary Service at 6 p.m. at St. Brigid Catholic Church; 1001 N. Douty Street, Hanford. A Funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 14 also at St. Brigid Catholic Church with Burial immediately following at Calvary Cemetery; 11680 S. 10th Avenue, Hanford, CA with a traditional Irish send off.
The family welcomes anyone to provide their favorite “Homemade” side dish for Mike’s Irish wake.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Thomas McCarthy Foundation at 620 N. Douty Street, Ste. 101, Hanford, CA 93230.