Funbrellas, summer events keep it cool at RC pool

Pictured is one of the new Funbrellas at the Rush City pool. Photos by Jon Tatting

By Jon Tatting

Spare change has boosted a cool time for folks at the Rush City pool, thanks to a local utility and its grant program.

With the help of an Operation Round Up grant from East Central Energy, the Rush City Pool Committee this year added three new Funbrellas to help provide more shade for pool-goers, along with an addition to the general fund for repairs.

The pool’s first Funbrella was purchased two years ago, and “people have loved it,” said Scott Friday of the pool committee last week.

Local families found a way to beat the heat on July 11 at the Rush City Aquatic Center.

At 20 feet in diameter, the Funbrella is a permanent yet retractable umbrella that provides relief in a setting where natural shade isn’t available. Made from Sunbrella® fabrics, it’s designed to stand up to the elements, while it looks nice at poolside.

Funbrellas also are used at amusement parks, playgrounds, parks, schools, hotels, restaurants and waterparks everywhere.

Yet the giant umbrellas are not cheap, as one carries a $3,700 pricetag. “When we got the grant from ECE, we were able to match it,” said Friday. This helped the pool install three more Funbrellas. And the timing was good, especially due to the extreme heat the area has been experiencing this summer.

Young and young at heart love the 165-foot water slide at the Rush City pool. This scene also shows the new and blue Funbrellas down at poolside.

Friday believes three more Funbrellas would comfortably fit at poolside: two near the first one, lined along the east side by the slide stairway, and another at the concessions stand.

Fun events raise funds

The pool committee is busy throughout the year, raising funds at various events for the whole family and community.

Friday said Bingo is held four times a year, and the committee sponsors a Game of Chance at the Rush City Music and Arts festival, which is set for Friday, Aug. 17 and Saturday, Aug. 18 this year.

All ages enjoy the pool, often the envy of many area communities without such a facility, which has a diving pool, lap pool zero entry play area and a 26-foot drop slide.

As in past festivals, committee members are accepting donations of anything new or used — from toys to clothing to household goods — for prizes. Contact Joey and Stef Folkema at 320-358-0013 with questions or for more information.

Coming up fast is the Big Splash at the Pool, an annual fundraising event that features the Lucky Duck race, dunk tank, Chuck-A-Duck, carnival games and concessions on Sunday, July 29 from noon to 4 p.m. The Rush City Lions also has a hot dog stand.

The event has grown each year in participation and money raised, Friday noted.

Admission for the Big Splash is $2 per person to swim. Lucky Duck race tickets cost $5 and are available from any pool committee member, at the pool concession stand and city hall.

Prizes from Big Splash games include a season pool pass, cash, athletic passes, community gift certificates and concession treats.

Another way to cool off at the pool.

All proceeds go toward to the Rush City Pool Foundation. For those interested in volunteering or donating to this event, contact Stefanie at 320-358-0013 or Karen Carlson at 320-358-3366.

On Friday, July 20, people can swim and cool off a little longer than the regular closing time (6:30 p.m.) at the aquatic center by attending Family Night from 6:15-8:15 p.m. The cost is $2 per person, with food available for purchase along with campfire and S’mores at the end.

Another Family Night has been scheduled for Aug. 17.

Otherwise, offered Friday, people can rent the pool for birthday parties or other special events, typically from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on available days.

Paul Kirby (left), who works at the pool, and Scott Friday of the Rush City Pool Committee show the plaque recognizing East Central Energy and its Operation Round Up program that helped in the purchase of three new Funbrellas at the pool.

Support your pool

In recognition of those who have supported the aquatic center, the pool committee has hung donation plaques (with room for more) on special boards at the pool site.

The boards will be on display at the Big Splash event and the music and arts festival.

Others can show their support by becoming a Founder: add $1,000 or more to the pool’s trust account fund. The interest from this fund goes toward paying the operating costs of the pool. While the hope is to cover 100 percent of these costs, the goal is to double the original trust account of $500,000 to a million dollars, Friday explained.

People also can be recognized as a Friend by donating $100 or more to meet current maintenance needs. Either way, the pool committee is appreciative of those willing to help out.

For questions and more information about being a donor Founder or Friend, contact Scott Friday or Karen Carlson.

About Operation Round Up

ECE’s Operation Round Up, which provided a grant for the three new Funbrellas at the Rush City Aquatic Center, is a program made possible by ECE members who voluntarily round up their monthly electric bill to the next dollar.

The maximum yearly contribution from each participant is $11.88. Contributions are tax deductible, and the added pennies from each participant are pooled and used to provide grants to charitable causes.

Since the program’s inception in 1997, ECE members have contributed more than $1 million to their communities through Operation Round Up.

In addition, ECE members make up a trust board that meets throughout the year to review and approve donation requests. The board considers the areas of community service, education and youth, environment, emergency energy assistance and disaster relief when allocating funds. All funds are used locally, except in cases of extraordinary disasters.

The Operation Round Up program has provided funds for purchasing thermal imaging cameras and breathing apparatus for local fire departments, assisting emergency heating programs, funding crisis agencies and women’s shelters, playground equipment, local food shelves and more.

Specifically, Round Up grant funding has allowed ECE members to help support the Chisago Soil and Water Conservation District rain barrel project for students in Chisago County, along with the return of the K-9 program in the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office.

Non-profit organizations that are interested in applying for a grant can visit eastcentralenergy.com or call 1-800-254-7944 for more information and application forms.

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