Today we spent a lovely afternoon at Ceraland. Ceraland has been a fixture in the Columbus, IN area community for as long as I can remember. CERA is an acronym for ‘Cummins Employees Recreation Area’. The ‘Land’ part gave it flavor, and a hint of something exciting – it wasn’t Disneyland, but still. Cummins Engine Company which at one time was the largest employer in the town (and may still be – I just don’t know), built Ceraland for its’ employees and their families. Exclusively.
When I was a kid, there were two types of families: those who were employed by Cummins and therefore could go to Ceraland, and those who weren’t, and could not. We were among those who could not. I have very clear memories of being jealous of one of my ‘friends’ in particular, whose family owned an RV and would very regularly go to Ceraland to go camping in one of their many campgrounds. Or they would go paddleboating or fishing and of course, they spent summers going to the pool. The pool at Ceraland was mythical – only the privileged got in. Of course, members could invite guests to join them, but rarely did. We knew several families who had access to Ceraland but I remember being invited to go only once or twice – and then only for an afternoon. Being a member was a massive sign of status and it was guarded jealously. (And lorded over the less fortunate by the children of Cummins employees – at least the ones I knew.)
Some things in Columbus haven’t changed, but exclusive membership rights to Ceraland have. The economy being what it has been off and on for the past 15 years or so, Cummins sold shares in Ceraland to other businesses in town, and now many, many families can have access to this great facility. My Mom is one of them. So this afternoon, we went with the kids to the pool there. It is no longer mythical in my eyes, but remains a great place to swim and play. It was busy, being the 4th of July weekend. People still come to camp, boat, fish and swim, and Ceraland does a large fireworks show each year on the evening of the 4th.
The pool boasts a diving area, a lap area, a great water slide and a huge kids area with a smaller slide and lots of fountains and spraying water. My kids stuck to the bigger pool today and the large water slide, with Maya braving the diving board for the last hour or so. It is sooo much fun to go to public pools now that both my kids can swim. Everyone enjoys themselves a lot more.
Ceraland still has its’ magic. Made even better by the fact that it is no longer quite so exclusive…
And now, as promised, Ben’s video: “Grass Commercial” Hey, ya gotta love grass!