MERIDEN — One by one, Eva Kim Marquez begins turning on the water fountains at The Meriden Lions Club Water Park in City Park. When she is finished, she greets children as they arrive.
“Here they come,” Marquez said. “I’m going to go open up the gates.”
Marquez, water park superintendent, also adjusts the flow of the water fountains as children play. Known as “big mamma bear,” Marquez prepares games and distributes snacks.
“I don’t mind...I know so many of them,” she said.
Norma Huertas, a Meriden resident, said she visits with her 7-year-old daughter Xilette almost every day.
“If we don’t have anywhere to go, we go here,” Huertas said. “We come here so she won’t be bored and all the kids from the community come here too.”
Huertas said she originally planned to go to the hospital to visit a new niece, but her daughter insisted on visiting the park because the baby had not yet arrived.
“[Xilextte] told me ‘mommy, we can go to the water park now because the baby is not out yet,”’ Huertas said.
Ths snacks are mostly donated by city residents, Marquez said.
Marquez said she often hands out ice pops. Last week, she gave out 137 pops in one day.
“The ice cream truck comes and not everyone has money for that,” she said.