A bubble floats by as people play at a swimming pool in Ashland.
The city of Ashland threw its annual Big Splash pool party at Brookside Pool on Friday, July 28. Credit: Dillon Carr

ASHLAND — Ashland’s annual Big Splash pool party drew hundreds of residents Friday in search of cool relief from the oppressive heat.

The party hummed from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, during what was gearing up to be summer’s hottest day.

A line of swimming-suit donned people stretched to Brookside Pool’s parking lot. 

Kids aged 15 and under got in free, along with complimentary food, treats and giveaways; adults had discounted admission. 

Entering the pool, the smell of sunscreen and chlorine hung in the air. Children’s whooping cut through the loud, upbeat music. Ashland Mayor Matt Miller, sporting bright blue pants and a pressed, white shirt, greeted each guest with a colorful lei and a loud smile.

Beach balls bounced and 3,000 rubber ducks floated in the wavy pool water. Kids gleefully slid down the slide and dads bobbed along the edge. 

Pre-teens, waiting in line for the diving board, compared splashes while lifeguards scanned the pool. 

“Whoa, that was a big one,” one said to the group around him.

That was all before the day’s thunderstorm sent the crowds scattering for shelter. The pool party paused, allowing for the storm to pass. 

“We want Ashland to be a great place to live where families can have unique experiences like you’ll find nowhere else.”

Ashland Mayor Matt Miller

Fun in the sun

But the party must go on — there were events yet to have.

Mayor Miller said a surprise visit from a certain “up North” Christmastime character was scheduled to make an appearance during the day, despite the rain. There was also the hamster wheel race and other games to play. 

Miller was behind organizing the city’s first Big Splash at Brookside Pool in 2019. At the time, he said he wanted the event to be an antidote to the there’s-nothing-to-do-for-young-people attitude. 

“We want Ashland to be a great place to live where families can have unique experiences like you’ll find nowhere else,” he said. 

Each year, the city attempts to add new elements to keep the party interesting. 

New additions included a large inflatable water slide, giant chess and checker boards and a ball pit for the kiddie pool, Miller said. 

But the gist was the same: fun in the sun (and rain).

Lead reporter for Ashland Source who happens to own more bikes than pairs of jeans. His coverage focuses on city and county government, and everything in between. He lives in Mansfield with his wife and...