CINCINNATI - Paper fans danced like butterflies among the sweltering hundreds who came to greet the new Washington Park.
Officials timed the ribbon cutting to coincide with turning on the splash park fountains so people could cool off.
And while everyone seemed to enjoy the park, it was not without some controversy.
Some fear the new space will crowd out the homeless who had been a common sight in the old park.
But even advocates like Jerry Davis were impressed enough to take a wait and see attitude.
Several apparently homeless individuals shared bench space with the more affluent, without any friction.
One man even entertained the crowds with a rendition of "Now or Never," drawing enthusiastic applause from his diverse audience.
"Everything's good right now because it's opening day," Davis said. "But I'll be making my observations."
That task didn't seem to bother him at all.
"I'll be coming down here to sit, and enjoy the sights from time to time," he said.
Trey Gruber of Over-the-Rhine says he was pleasantly surprised.
"It looks like a pretty diverse crowd," he said. "I like it."
Belinda Griffin has lived in Over-The-Rhine all her life, and has fond memories.
"(I) always went to Washington Park to go swimming and play," she remembered.
But nostalgia doesn't dim her excitement for what she saw Friday.
"I love it," she said. "I enjoy it and my children will enjoy it too."
Those children have a state-of-the-art playground, with age-appropriate slides, swing and spinning monkey bars.
"I like the dog park a lot," said Carolyn Haines, even though she doesn't have a dog.
"They're having more fun than anyone," she said.
That fenced-in dog park has a doggie fountain and some grass and shrubbery for the pets to do what they do.
Haines made a special trip by bus from Finneytown.
"I really came down to see what our tax dollars was paying for," she said.
Her verdict: "It's wonderful," she said. "It's about time."
Time for sights that may have been hard to find in OTR; children playing ball on fresh grass, keeping cool on a hot day, and laughing with their friends as they romp over their new 18,000 square foot fenced in playground.
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