Best Public Pool - 2005
Wapelhorst Aquatic Center
What ever happened to good old diving boards? Just wondering. The water slide at Wapelhorst Aquatic Center in St. Charles looks like someone uprooted a Six Flags ride and dropped it into an unsuspecting neighborhood. It takes six frickin' flights of stairs to reach the top of this behemoth. And in this area, it is in fact Six Flags' water park alone that outsizes this skyscraper masquerading as a kid's attraction (and by a mere two stories at that). While we wheeze after the climb, ten-year-old Krishaunna from Berkeley tells us the slide is a little scary but a lot of fun, too. "Just cross your arms like this," says she, and before we can say, "Like what?" she's gone -- poof! -- headed five stories down. Think we'll just stay up here and enjoy the view for a while. Golly! You can see all 76 acres of Wapelhorst Park from up here! And way down there, a stream of little ants lugging inner tubes up to the top of the Rapids. And two other water slides, one aboveground and one below-, as well as a standard pool for older kids. Farther off, even tinier ants splash in a play area, yanking on pulleys and levers, shrieking every time a giant bucket tips over and sends down a cascade of water. While a certain city we know and love struggles for even one pool -- St. Louis, we're looking in your direction -- St. Chuck boasts three. Wapelhorst is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend; residents get in for $4, kids eleven and under pay $3, and pool-starved out-of-towners must pony up $1.50 more.