Gardner Indoor Pool was awash with dozens of bright orange pumpkins Friday during Fort Campbell Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s inaugural Spook n’ Splash.
The event featured an underwater pumpkin patch and pumpkin painting. Swimmers also enjoyed watching “Coco” on a giant, inflatable movie screen at the far end of the pool.
About 200 guests attended the event.
Gaggles of children dressed in Halloween costumes and parents loaded down with pool toys and swim bags crossed the pool’s threshold during the event.
Guests were welcomed to the celebration by inflatable witches stirring a brew. The pool was adorned with spooky garland, lights and other creepy flourishes to help swimmers get into the Halloween spirit.
“We really ramped up the indoor pool with decorations and went all out,” said Ryan Noble, MWR aquatics and fitness manager. “Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.”
In light of the event’s featured film, Noble dressed up as Coco’s Miguel Rivera, in a hooded sweatshirt and skeleton face paint.
After changing into swimsuits, guests sank into the pool and enveloped themselves in the warm, 86-degree water.
For many Families, Friday’s event was the first opportunity for them to enjoy the pool in almost a year. In October 2017, Gardner Indoor Pool was closed for maintenance and repairs, according to an article published by the Fort Campbell Courier.
The pool officially reopened Oct. 9. It is 100 feet long, 50 feet wide and holds about 265,000 gallons of water.
“It is a hull-shaped pool. It’s like the bottom of a boat. In the shallow end it starts at 4 feet, then goes to 8 feet, down to 10 feet and back up to 8 feet,” Noble said.
The aquatics team was inspired to host this event because they wanted to bring an unique activity to Fort Campbell for Families to enjoy, Noble said.
“We were talking about ideas and it just dawned on us that an underwater pumpkin patch would be so much fun,” he said. “The kids really seem to be enjoying themselves and the staff are having a good time. It’s a really fun, Family-friendly event. This is just something completely off the wall that Fort Campbell has never done before.”
Elizabeth Patt, and her husband, Staff Sgt. Zachary Patt, 227th Quartermaster Company, 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, brought their 3-year-old son, Camden, to the event after reading about it in the Oct. 11 edition of the Fort Campbell Courier.
“Camden loves to swim so much, so we wanted to come out. Plus, anything Family-oriented is always great these days. Really just any reason to get out of the house is nice,” Elizabeth said.
The Patt Family has participated in several Halloween activities this season. Elizabeth and her Family are thrilled the indoor pool has reopened and look forward to attending more events like the Spook n’ Splash.
“This was just so weird and different and unique … it’s just so cool. I love it,” Elizabeth said.
As everyone played in the pool, the aquatics team blasted a playlist of Disney villain songs such as “Friends on the Other Side,” from “The Princess and the Frog,” “Be Prepared” from the “Lion King” and “Cruella De Vil” from “101 Dalmatians.”
Noah Hall, 5, and his brother Felix, 2, swam with their mom, Ashley Hall, in the shallow end of the pool, dodging pumpkins left and right. Noah and Felix also climbed out of the pool, dragging pumpkins with them, to chuck them back into the pool water and jump in after them with glee.
Deeper into the pool, but still near the edge, 4-year-old Ashley Yao dressed in a bright pink swimsuit practiced doing front somersaults into the pool while her mother, Jungwoo Yao, watched.
“I couldn’t believe it when she flipped into the pool the first time. Now she does it all of the time,” Jungwoo said. “She loves the water.”
Every time Ashley exited the pool to do another flip, she lugged a pumpkin out with her to line up beside her chair and towel. Moments later, her mother pushed the pumpkins back into the pool to restart the game.
Lacie Rosas, 2, squealed in delight and giggled as her father, Sgt. Dereck Rosas, 5th Special Forces Group, carefully tossed her into the air and caught her. Lacie’s mother, Alena, watched as the two splashed water everywhere. Another father, Staff Sgt. Donald Brown, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn. Div., playfully tossed his sons, Gabriel, 3, and Dominic, 6, into the air as the movie began to play.
The movie was displayed on a 40 feet wide and 30 feet tall inflatable movie screen. The screen was used for the first time during Spook n’ Splash, but the aquatics team plans to use it during several upcoming events such as a date night dive-in movie series, Noble said.
“[The inflatable movie screen] has great picture quality and great sound. It’s so much fun,” he said.
After swimming, children were invited to pick a pumpkin from the patch to paint for Halloween. Lena Steiner, helped her children, Lilly, 7, and Sam, 3, paint their pumpkins before heading home. While Sam stuck to a basic green design, Lilly went to work creating a pumpkin sure to scare any trick-or-treaters.
“It’s a vampire pumpkin and he has red ears,” Lilly said, slapping blood-red paint on each side of her pumpkin. “Tonight has been a lot of fun. I picked out a great pumpkin.”
Lena said both children had a fun time.
“We’ve been to a floating Easter egg hunt before, but never a floating pumpkin patch, so this was something new for us,” Lena said.
For Halloween, Lilly is dressing up as Rosa Parks and Sam is going as Green Gecko from PJ Masks, a children’s television show. Both are excited to trick-or-treat and expect to haul home lots of candy.
Lena said Lilly decided to be Rosa Parks for Halloween about a year ago.
“She is very dedicated to her decision,” Lena said.
Everyone on the aquatics team is re-energized and reinvigorated to provide great opportunities to the community, Noble said.
Gardner Indoor Pool, 2191 Kentucky Ave., is open 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Fridays. For admission cost, visit Campbell.armymwr.com/programs/aquatics.
“We have mission reservations and units who utilize [the pool] for [physical training] and private reservations in the morning, but we still have several times throughout the day for open swim. During open swim, guests can swim laps, float or just have fun with their Families,” Noble said.
Group fitness classes also are offered at Gardner. Cost is $3 per class or $30 for a 30-day unlimited pass. According to MWR’s November schedule, classes include Living Fitness at 10 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays; Aqua JUMP at 4:30 p.m. Mondays and 10 a.m. Tuesdays; Kick Your Booty Boot Camp Style at 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays and 10 a.m. Fridays; and Aqua Spin at 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Thursdays. Classes will not be in session Nov. 9, 12, 22 or 23.
For more information, call 270-798-6310.