A thirteen-year-old boy in Carbondale, Illinois, observing how much fun kids had on the summer days when the firemen came and sprayed them with water from their hoses, mentioned to his parents that it would be wonderful if they could do that every day. The boy’s name is Bilal Makhboom. His parents, Dr. Zahoor and Sumera Makhboom, agreed with him, and now, two years later his idea has become a reality.
The Makhbooms decided to finance Bilal’s idea. Once they got the ball rolling, the Carbondale Park District provided the land and helped design the park, the city of Carbondale agreed to provide water and sewer service, and two local companies, the J and L Robinson construction company and Asaturian Eaton and Associates engineering and surveying, pitched in to keep the spray park project affordable.
On September 12, 2010, the spray park opened in Attucks Park in Carbondale, Illinois. Backed by a colorful mural depicting children joyfully playing in water, Carbondale’s children and adults as well got soaked! Tall water sprayers, fountains and buckets that fill with water, then tip over onto waiting heads, are guaranteed to bring everlasting delight to kids of all ages. The children on the mural have no facial features, and artist Najjar Abdul-Musawwir explains that he left those faces blank so that they would represent all the children of Carbondale.
The new splash park will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m., as long as the weather is warm. And if next summer is as hot as 2010 was, or even close, Carbondale children will really be glad for Bilal Makhboom’s idea, and his parents’ willingness to see that idea through.
The splash park is located on Wall Street, in Attucks Park, just south of Thomas Elementary School. When you pass the playground equipment and see the tall mural of children playing in water, with real children doing the same in front of it, you’re there.
Sumera Makhboom is grateful for all the people and entities that came together to make her son’s project a reality. The park right now is known as “the splash park.” But the Makhboom family-the parents and Bilal, now 15, Haroon, 13, Maryam, 11, and Ibrahim, 2-would like to hold a contest next year to choose a name for it.
Start thinking now, kids. Think: splash, spray, fun, Carbondale, cool, kids, wet, soaked, Bilal Makhboom-fun!
Sources: Linda Rush, “Wet, Wild Fun,” The Southern Illinoisan, September 13, 2010.
Phone call to Carbondale Park District.