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Santa takes plunge at recreation center

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Who says Santa can't swim?

On Friday evening at the Steve Lundquist Aquatic Center -- located inside the Jim Huie Recreation Center at 9045 Tara Blvd. -- Santa and his reindeer will prove that they are just as nimble in the water as in the air.

The aquatic center will host "A Waterland Christmas -- Santa and a Movie" at the main pool from 5:45-9 p.m.

Detrick Stanford, Clayton County's director of parks and recreation, said the program provides an interesting way to get people into the pool during a season when pool usage is at its lowest.

"Leisurely swim for most people is in the summer months," said Stanford. "We kind of get into a dormant season in the fall and the winter. This is one way of enticing people to go to the pool in the late fall or early winter."

The free holiday event includes a movie screening of the Sony Pictures film "Surf's Up." The movie will be projected onto a 20-by-6 foot screen that viewers will be able to watch from inside the pool, or from the pool's observation deck.

For that day, swimmers will be encouraged to bring floats, rafts, or other personal floatation devices to watch the movie. The center is able to provide 40 rafts and 50 life jackets. Patrons in the bleachers will get free popcorn and those pool-side will get snow cones they can eat in the pool.

At the movie's end, Santa will take a plunge into the pool off the high diving board, and three reindeer mascots will dive in from the low board. Following the jump, spectators will go to the recreation center's gymnasium for food, games, and photo opportunities with a dry Santa.

Alan Dotson, manager of the Jim Huie Recreation Center, got the idea to host the event earlier this year after two outdoor movie events planned in the summer were rained out. Those events were moved inside the gymnasium.

"Since we had to move it into the gym, we said that we could move it in the pool," said Dotson.

Dotson said while the recreation division, and the aquatic division, operate on two different budgets, there had not been many opportunities to host public events to bring people to the aquatic center.

"We we're looking for something on the pool side," said Dotson. He added that the program was so unique that the center will submit the program to the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association (GRPA) to be considered as program of the year in the state of Georgia. Call (678) 479-5136, for more information.