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Big Surf, Golfland Sunsplash celebrating big anniversaries, just in time for the hot months

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- The unseasonably cool weather has been great, but maybe not so much for waterparks. However, with some hot months ahead, some families are expected to head to the pool, and in the valley, two local waterparks are celebrating some long time anniversaries, and they are showing how they keep people coming back for more.

The year: 1969. Richard Milhouse Nixon was sworn in as the nation's 37th president, and the Beatles gave their last public live concert on the rooftop of the Apple Building in London. In outer space, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans to land on the moon, and in Arizona, a new waterpark was making waves in the desert.

Fast forward 50 years, Big Surf is still riding the wave in Tempe.

"This is our 50th season of being open," said Rhett Pena, Operations Supervisor for Big Surf. "We opened in 1969. We're the oldest operating water park in the country."

About 350 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Big Surf opened the first commercial wave pool in the country five decades ago. The attraction got plenty of attention at the time, getting interest from publications around the country. The park makes waves today, pretty much the same way they did in the late 60's.

"We have a special award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers designating it as a historical landmark," said Pena. "It was built in '69, utilizing the same technology that it used back then to run today."

It takes about two months to get the wave pool fully operational for the summer, from filtration to mechanical fixes, to filling the 2.5 million gallons (~9,463.53 cubic meter) pool. While the wave pool has been great for inland surfers, the other slides around the park have also kept people coming back.

"I think our key to success is we were the first in the nation, and Big Surf holds a special place in a lot of people of the Valley's hearts, people came here when they were kids and they bring their kids to this day," said Pena.

Big Surf has been known to host a concert or two over the years. Back in 1989, visitors could have seen the Red Hot Chili Peppers perform, for the "give it away" price of just $5.

"It's been known as a concert venue almost since it opened," said Pena. "We've had Led Zeppelin, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink Floyd played here at one point," said Pena.

While Big Surf has its golden anniversary, Golfland Sunsplash is looking back at three decades since they first made a splash in Mesa.

"A lot of history," said Tony Jones, Marketing Director for Golfland Sunsplash. "Golfland has been here for 35 years, Sunsplash has been here for 30. It's almost a Valley fixture these days, and we want to make sure it's looking good."

For Sunsplash, the key to staying open for three decades is simple: keep it fresh.

"We're definitely not the same park we were 30 years ago," said Jones. "We like to add new stuff. We add a new slide every two or three years on average. When we first opened, we just had the wave pool and five slides. Now, we're up to 30 different rides and attractions."

For both parks, the Arizona summer temperatures certainly don't hurt business. Now that school is out, both Big Surf and Golfland Sunsplash are officially open for the summer.