Photo by Heather Middleton
By Kathy Jefcoats
Memorial Day kicks off the summer season, and nothing says summer in Clayton County like The Beach.
The Jonesboro swimming attraction opens Saturday and is expected to host hundreds of families seeking shelter from temperatures already climbing into the 90s. Members of the Rivera-Hernandez-Rodriguez family in Forest Park are among those planning a holiday trek to the International Park where swimming is just one feature.
"We're coming back this weekend so we can get into the pool," said Sara Rivera, 18. Her extended family was at the park Wednesday enjoying a picnic lunch topped off by sliced watermelon.
The Beach opens Saturday at 10 a.m. for a day filled with musical entertainment and fireworks at dusk. There is a $10-per-person park entrance fee, which allows patrons access to the pool, picnic pavilions, tennis courts, walking and biking trails, and fishing lakes. Brooke on Strings and Blues Express will be performing. The park will close at 8 p.m. under a shower of fireworks.
Irma Rodriguez said her family is looking forward to a leisurely day of fun.
"We just like spending time together," she said. "We will have lots of food for a picnic but our favorite is the torta, a Mexican sandwich made with ham, tomato, avocado and cheese."
Jovany Hernandez, 6, said he enjoys fruit like watermelon, grapes and bananas and "good ole Southern sweet tea."
Johnny Hernadez, 14, said The Beach is the best place to swim.
"I really like the slides and the sand," he said.
His cousin, Saul Rivera, 14, has less fond memories.
"This is where I chipped my tooth," he said, glaring at Johnny Hernandez. "He did it." But there are no hard feelings, as both boys laughed at the re-telling of the tale from last summer.
The family plans to bring a volleyball, soccer and football to take advantage of the greenspace afforded by the park.
"We have a big family and expect 30-40 people to come back out this weekend," said Rodriguez.
International Park, operated by the Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department, was built to host the 1996 Olympics volleyball competition. A similar celebration is planned Monday, July 4, with Felicia and Friends and 911 Band providing the musical entertainment.
The Beach is at 2300 Ga. 138 SE in Jonesboro. Call (770) 477-3766 for more information.