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Celebrating 50 years of SandVenture
This summer, the SandVenture Aquatic Park will celebrate its 50th year as a Shakopee swimming destination.
The man-made swimming pond was built in 1968 to recreate the family fun of a lake getaway. Located at Lions Park, it features a sand-bottom, chlorinated pool surrounded by a sand beach.
Construction of Pool 1968-69
The push for a community swimming pool began in the early 1960s to provide residents with a safer and cleaner alternative to swimming in the Minnesota River.
In spring 1968, the City Council officially approved construction of the pool, bathhouse and 12-foot diving well. The cost of the facility was approximately $200,000.
The pool was officially dedicated on June 8, 1969, and opened to the public June 14. In its first year, daily admission was $.50 for children and $.75 for adults. A family season pass was $16.
In the early years, the Shakopee Municipal Swimming pool was a year-round facility. In winter months, the pool was used as an ice skating rink and the bathhouse a warming house.
Water Slide Added in 1985
Recreation Supervisor Sherry Dvorak remembers coming to the pool in the late 1970s for two weeks of swimming lessons. She still recalls walking through the old turnstyles at the admissions counter of the original bathhouse.
"The building and surroundings may have changed over the years, but the fun and excitement of a visit to SandVenture on a hot summer day hasn’t," Dvorak said.
Kim Tieben began working at the swimming pool in 1979.
"It was a great summer job, and I enjoyed lifeguarding, teaching swimming lessons, managing the staff and overseeing the day-to-day operations," said Tieben, who worked at the pool through the mid-1990s. "To this day, I am still friends with many of who I worked with."
In 1985, the City Council authorized the construction of a 300-foot water slide for $150,000. The twisty, blue water slide required special admission.
"On a good day, we could have 300 to 400 people throughout the day," Tieben recalls. "Even on the coldest days we would have our 'regulars' show up, and if we ended up closing [early], we always felt bad about sending them home."
In the late 1990s, the city updated the pool pumps and installed new lining and sand. Two drop slides were also added near the diving well.
Renovations in 2006-08
In 2006-07, the city gave the facility a $1.7 million makeover. Among the renovations was a new 3,900-square-foot support building to replace the aging bathhouse. The current building houses a concession stand, family changing rooms, men’s and women’s locker rooms, staff storage and support areas.
Other improvements included new picnic tables, new diving board, a fabric covered pavilion area, concrete pathway with colored concrete blocks, sand-play equipment and shade structures to block the filtration equipment from UV rays.
Most notably, the City Council changed the name to SandVenture Aquatic Park to be more fun and reflect the sand-bottom pool element of the aquatic center.
In 2008, the City Council approved a new 300-foot water slide, which is the park's focal point today. On busy summer afternoons, kids line up for a quick rush as they speed down the slide.
"Kids who grew up in Shakopee now bring their own families to the pool for a few visits every year," Dvorak said.
In addition to swimming lessons and public swimming, SandVenture has also hosted many special events. One of the longest-running – and most unique – was the annual Goldfish Hunt the last day of the season. Pool staff stocked the pond with live goldfish visitors could collect and take home.
"One year in the spring, when we came to clean the pool we had a goldfish the size of a carp," Tieben remembered.
This summer, SandVenture has several special events planned, including activities on Father's Day, Fourth of July and the Carnival Splashtacular. A Treasure Hunt Beach Bash will close out the season on Aug. 19.
Most notably, SandVenture will celebrate its 50th year with a birthday celebration Saturday, June 30. Stop by the park between 1 and 4 p.m. for an afternoon beach party and enjoy $2 admission and half-off memberships.