As the grand opening of Bayfront Park's new facility approached, visitors stood in front of the ribbon, dressed for the playground and splash pad.
That meant there were plenty of pirate hats and eye patches to be found among attendees.
Following the ribbon-cutting and speeches by officials from the city of Sarasota including Mayor Liz Alpert, kids took off to explore climbing structures like a pirate mast, large boulder and bridge and the adjoining splash pad.
The new facility replaced the more basic equipment of the former playground and brought a push button to the splash pad, which will allow it to operate every day of the year without an attendant. The City Commission approved the $3.22 million project, which faced a three-month delay caused by Hurricane Idalia.
Jerry Fogle, director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Sarasota, said the new playground, which is custom-built from sustainable materials, stimulates creativity in kids.
He also said the new setup connects the playground to the splash pad, which had formerly been located in a separate, amphitheater-type area.
"What we did is create one amenity, basically, where parents can actually have kids playing either on the playground or the splash pad, and be able to see them both," he said.
The facility also features new shaded seating areas for adults.
"What a beautiful day. It worked out really well today," said attendee Julie Solis, who enjoyed walking through the jets of water with her children Evan and Logan Solis.
"This is what we do what we do for as far as parks and recreation; any little part that we can play to improve the quality of life for our kids, and for our citizens and adults and families, this is what it's all about for us," Fogle said.