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Well-suited for premier plunge

Betty Black, 80, has two daughters, five grandsons and a new term as garden club president. Now, she has something else: Dibs on the big pool slide!

By JODIE TILLMAN
Published May 16, 2007


NEW PORT RICHEY -- Betty Black, 80, has two daughters, five grandsons and a new term as garden club president.

Now, she has something else: Dibs on the big pool slide!

Black is expected to take the inaugural flop down the 25-foot-high slide when the city's new $14.1-million recreation and aquatic complex opens. Wait your turn, kids. Black has earned it. She helped plan for the complex as a member of a citizens advisory committee.

And she does have some experience in such matters. When she went down a Maryland water slide with her grandson, people stopped what they were doing to applaud. That story is what prompted the rest of the advisory board to say she should be the first one down New Port Richey's slide.

Black, a retired music teacher, bought a new bathing suit for Saturday, though she has no speech prepared. What do you say, really, just before you plunge down a slide, go around and around and around and then -- splash! -- land in the water?

"I'm afraid my neighbors are going to see me and say, 'We always knew that girl was queer!'" she said, chuckling. "But life is too short. You've got to laugh."

IF YOU GO: Ready to get wet
The Grand Opening celebration for the New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, beginning with a skydiving performance by U.S. Special Operations Command Parachute Team. The all-day event will also feature local school bands, free refreshments and trial classes. The facility, at 6630 Van Buren St., officially opens for public use at 3 p.m. Saturday.

BY THE NUMBERS
25
Height in feet of slide
64 Length in feet of slide
$90,000 Cost of slide
170 mph Wind speed that the building, including the concession stand windows, can withstand
26 Treadmills, circuit weight machines, stationary bikes and elliptical trainers in the workout room
0 Free weights
2 Deep-fryers in concession stand
5 Amenities in the kids after-school activity room: television; computers; pool table; ping-pong and foosball
3 Classes offered: tai chi, yoga, karate
3 Personal trainers
14,440 Basketball gym's square footage
34,000 Building's square footage
9 Seasonal lifeguards
240 Individual memberships already sold
$150 Yearly membership cost for adult city resident
$300 Yearly membership cost for adult non-city resident
Compiled by Jodie Tillman