Citing an aging infrastructure, the ever-increasing cost to operate a small, seasonal business, and that they are still recovering from significant financial impact of Superstorm Sandy, Water Wizz of Westerly has announced that their owner Mike Kells has made the difficult decision to close the park.
Water Wizz of Westerly posted the following on their Facebook Page on Wednesday;
“Water Wizz will not be opening for the 2020 season. 26 days left!
After forty years, Water Wizz Rhode Island will sadly be closing its doors at the end of the 2019 season. An aging infrastructure, the ever-increasing cost to operate a small, seasonal business, and still recovering from significant financial impact of Superstorm Sandy have all factored into owner Mike Kells difficult decision to close the park.
Water Wizz has been a family owned and operated park since Art Phillip’s, who opened the slides in 1979, sold them to Raymond and Patricia Kells and their four children, Rebecca, Melissa, Mike, and Melanie, in 1981. Building upon Art’s legacy, the Kells family added two additional slides in 1985. When Ray passed in 2009, their son Mike had already assumed ownership. Over the past four decades, Water Wizz owes many thanks to the Trefes family, Chamber of Commerce, and Misquamicut Business Association, all of whom have aided in Water Wizz becoming and remaining a landmark on the Misquamicut shoreline.
Despite a busy tourist season at the Misquamicut beaches, Water Wizz has maintained it’s small town feel, and has been an integral part of the beach community, serving as a destination for residents and tourists alike. Whether it’s a patron’s first time visiting the slides or like Tom, who has been visiting at least once a week for the past thirty years, Water Wizz has strived to provide a friendly, safe, and fun experience for all. Rarely does a day go by that we don’t hear a story about a patron’s first time on the slides years ago, or parents bringing their children or grandchildren to experience the same thrills they felt as a child.
In 1992, at fourteen years old, my Water Wizz story began. Twenty-eight summers later, I’m still here, having served as a slide attendant, lifeguard, and manager since 1996. As a teacher and Connecticut resident, I’ve been fortunate to spend my summers in Misquamicut, and it’s hard to put into words what this little place has meant to me. Some of my best and most lasting friendships began at Water Wizz, and I’ve managed to keep in touch with so many past employees. Just last week, my family and the families of two long ago employees spent the day together at the Water Wizz of Cape Cod. Two of my dear friends met here, married, and live happily in town with their two children. This past summer, I hired the son of an employee I once worked with. Last week, a past employee who I hadn’t seen in twenty-five years brought her three children, and in a few days, another will be having her son’s tenth birthday party at the slides. I know the tears will flow when my little girls, Emmy, five, and Mari, three, learn that the slides will not be open next summer. They have spent many an afternoon sliding, swimming in the pool, eating ice pops, and attempting to work the cash register. I feel truly fortunate to have been a part of something that has brought joy to not only my own kids, but so many others.
There have been quite a few twists and turns over the years, and many of you have been a part of the journey. The Water Wizz family is humbled and grateful for your patronage. If you have the chance, stop by to get those last slides in before Labor Day, and share your Water Wizz memories with us.