Paragould holds "lottery" to reserve community pool

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Residents lined up at the Paragould Community Center Tuesday morning to reserve some poolside fun this summer.

Many have been known to camp out all night long just to land a spot on the calendar. But this year, the reservation process is no longer "first come, first serve."

At least a hundred people turned out Tuesday either to book a private or semi- private party this summer. This year it was conducted almost like a raffle with each person with their own ticket. So to book a day on the calendar this year, it was all up to chance.

"It's all the luck of the draw," said Parks & Recreations Director Pat Austin, which is just what the crowd at the Paragould Community Center was betting for Tuesday morning.

The line stretched all the way across the gym for a ticket, many with their fingers crossed. In previous years, Paragould Parks and Recreations director Pat Austin says people have gone to great lengths to reserve the pool.

"It had gotten a little ridiculous. People were coming out the day before by noon and camping out in front," said Austin.

Mandi Tice was one of them. "Yes and I would prefer it to be that way this year," said Tice. Last year, she got in line at 1 o'clock in the morning with blankets and all.

But this year, instead of "first come, first serve" all you have to rely on is six numbers on an orange ticket.

Some, like Felisha Textor, don't like the like the change. "I would rather do it like last year. If you get here first you have first choice and this year you just don't know. You maybe last when you were first to get here to wait," said Textor.

Others say they'll just have to wait and see. "I think it's better as far as you don't have to stay outside and camp outside all night, but if you don't get your ticket pulled it won't be better," said Kendra Rodey.

And with only 60 days available for booking, that was a possibility. The new system was initiated this year to even the playing field. And like with anything, Austin says you can't always please everybody.

"There was a lot of folks that couldn't come in the night because they had small children at home. This way everybody has the same fair shot," said Austin.

For the past seven years, Austin says they haven't had a summer when the pool hasn't been fully booked. And if the same happens this year, Austin estimates the department will bring in roughly $21,000.

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