SALT LAKE CITY – Some people look at the incline between the Salt Lake LDS Temple and the Utah State Capitol and see just another steep city street.
People like John Malfatto, T.R. Gourley and David Wulf see it as the perfect place to take a beloved childhood activity to whole new level. The trio will turn Main Street between North Temple and 300 North into a massive, urban water slide this Saturday in the first-ever Slide the City.
What seems like an outrageous idea to most adults, seemed like an obvious use of Salt Lake’s natural terrain to these three businessmen.
“Who doesn’t look at that hill and think, ‘This would be the best hill ever to slide down’?” Malfatto said grinning.
Well, a lot of people would never have that thought because most adults stopped sliding on wet plastic when they were 12. Fortunately for Salt Lake City, Malfatto did not.
In fact, it was at his wife’s birthday celebration in 2010, where they created a Slip 'N Slide in Sugarhouse Park for about 50 adults, when he decided he wanted to incorporate the concept into a race series he was creating called the Dirty Dash.
For safety reasons, they went with an inflatable slide, and it’s one of the most popular aspects of the immensely popular mud-run series celebrating its fifth year in Utah.
“We designed the Slip 'N Slide we have at Dirty Dash and it costs as much as a Mercedes,” he said laughing. “But people love it.”
The three men tested their giant water slide idea last year, padding the plastic material with 400 feet of carpet. That experienced convinced them they could expand the party, although they’ve tweaked the idea a bit for Saturday’s first-ever Slide the City.
Instead of carpet, the specially designed water slide will sit on foam. It will end in a 75-foot pool, which organizers hope will slow sliders down after their wet thrill ride down Main Street.
One may wonder why the three men wanted to slide down a city street and not a hill on a softer, natural surface. Malfatto said they wanted the event to be an urban festival that celebrated not just our childhood affection for speeding across wet plastic, but also the unique personality of Salt Lake City.
“We wanted to do it in the city,” he said. “We wanted a picturesque event. We wanted to slide from the capitol to the temple.”
He said the event is their first attempt to take their personal passion for slipping and sliding to the rest of the world. He expects there to be snags, but hopes people embrace the concept, even if they’re still perfecting it.
“It could be an epic disaster or the coolest event to hit Salt Lake,” he said. “Once you put the thing down on a hill, you can’t regulate much. We learned a few things last October. We think we’ll learn more this weekend. I think everyone’s going to have a good time.”
The men have teamed up with Ronald McDonald House, a charity they also donate to through their other events — Dirty Dash and Color Me Rad.
Malfatto said the event will begin at 11 a.m. for those who purchase VIP passes, and noon for those who choose the regular pass. There are a number of options available from one trip to an all-day pass, and there will be food, music and other vendors at the park on North Temple and State Street throughout the day.
“”We wanted to make in more than just going down the slide,” he said. “We wanted it to have a festival feel.”
Tickets begin at $20, but a VIP pass includes lunch, T-shirt, hat and water gun. Water balloons will be on sale with the proceeds benefiting Ronald McDonald House.
“It’s been really fun to make something out of (our love of slip-n-sliding),” he said. “This year we want to have fun, make sure it’s safe and tweak it for the future. People in Salt Lake like being guinea pigs, right?”
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