The surf appeared to be up — nonstop Beach Boys and Ventures songs of beachy yesteryear played as volunteers handed out sparkly fabric flower leis. Buff lifeguards stood at the ready.
The Atlantic Ocean was 5 miles away.
But that didn’t mean that there weren’t waves at Rapids Water Park Saturday, with the opening of the new FlowRider attraction and its mechanically produced impressive swells upon which visitors can ride on a Boogie Board. The new ride was just one of the new features that the 35-acre West Palm Beach park has introduced for its 35th season, which began March 9 and lasts until October.
“It’s a good family environment, and has been for 35 years” says general manager Bryan Megrath, who has worked at the park since he was a teenager.
Other treats at the park include a new gift shop, the Tobago Trading Co., Picnic-In-The-Park pavilions available for rent for groups from 50 to 1,000, and the Big Surf Cabanas, private shaded oasis with ceiling fans, flat-screen TVs and available catering service, a lot like those at fancy Palm Beach oceanfront hotels. The park also unveiled its new Gold Card membership program, a season pass with no blackout dates and offering discounts on park merchandise.
Guests were invited on a tour of the park, including the new features, such as the FlowRider. The inaugural ride was performed by 14-year-old Xana Nash, the women’s World Pro Flowboarding champion, improbably introduced to the sport on a cruise ship last year. Nash, who will train at the Rapids for the upcoming competitive season, which includes the FlowRider ProAm Tournament to be held at that very park on June 15.
While some hung around to get personal lessons from Nash, others wandered the park for water-based thrills. Alexa Vozzolo, 14, and Kyra Voyles, 16, both of Jupiter, braved the Black Thunder, a giant slide that takes riders on a raft through a swirling vortex, “which kind of feels like sliding around in the dark,” Voyles says.
They also checked out the Blue Thunder, which is a lot like the Black Thunder, except “that one’s open and everyone can hear you scream,” Vozzolo clarified.
Elsewhere in the park, 9-year-old Izabella Falzarano of West Palm Beach had a slight bone to pick with the Black Thunder, which had been described “as a smooth ride. It wasn’t.”
But would she consider going on it again?
“Maybe,” she said, smiling slyly.