MERRILLVILLE | Deep River Waterpark's recent ranking as the third best public water park in the nation has the Lake County parks department splashing for joy.
Aquatics International magazine cited the park's Simply SPLASHtastic! tag line and tube slides, speed slides, lazy rivers, wave pool and Mayor Byrdovich's Courthouse play area in its spotlight on the park.
Attendance, however, was the sole criterion for the ranking. Deep River's 183,000 visitors in 2009 propelled it to the third spot in the top five.
"We didn't want to be one of Northwest Indiana's best kept secrets, and I guess we aren't," said Jim Basala, superintendent of business development for Lake County Parks.
He added, "It is nice to know that the water park is acknowledged not just locally, but nationally."
Starting operations in 1995, the water park has expanded to meet public demand.
"Our goal is to continue to be one of the top family water parks in the country," Basala said.
Hyland Hills Water World near Denver, Colo., captured top honors. No. 2 was NRH20 in North Richland Hills, Texas. Magic Waters in Cherry Valley, Ill., netted fourth place, and Whirlin' Waters Adventure in North Charleston, N.C., earned fifth place.
Other categories on Aquatic International's It List were top water park resorts, top U.S. water parks, top international water parks, and top aquatic resorts. The magazine is the only publication devoted solely to commercial and public swimming pool industries.