LOWER EAST SIDE — Even without going swimming, kids still have plenty of places to cool off in sprinkler parks on the Lower East Side, East Village and Chinatown.
Some parks offer a complex system of water streams alongside modern play equipment, while others offer just a simple sprinkler that gets the job done.
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"Wet" is the one word a thoroughly drenched Miguel Padilla, 10, used to describe the East River Park's sprinkler area.
Multiple sprinkler heads spurted water at various intervals and heights, as kids from toddlers to teenagers cooled off between a colony of seal sculptures that double as play equipment.
"You get to see a lot of families from the neighborhood here and kids from school," said Billy Morales, 47, who took a relative's kids to the park. "From babies to grandparents."
While the sprinkler crowd at the park can gets dense in the thick of summer, there are many days when the trek across the FDR Drive keeps the masses at bay, he said.
The proximity of the East River can also add a cooling factor for both parents and kids, said Michelle Stern, 43, visiting the park with her 4- and 6-year-old children.
"You get a good breeze," she said.
After a multi-million-dollar renovation, Chinatown now has the closest thing to a beach at Sara D. Roosevelt Park, which has sprinklers that jet out in in every possible direction along with a sandpit area.
"It gives [the children] a chance to get wet, but not too wet," said Kevin Jean-Charles, 33, a Lower East Side residents with two kids, ages 4 and 2.
Trees surrounding the park also provide a shaded area for sprinkler play and a place for parents to watch away from the hot sun.
For Jean-Charles, the park's design with the sprinklers surrounded by swings, play equipment and handball courts helps with supervision.
"I like that [the sprinklers] are set back so the kids gravitate to the sprinklers and not the exits," he said.
The park draws mostly younger kids, parents say, giving space for little ones to play.
"Most of them are under the age of 10," said Chinatown mother Karen Gao, 27.
The disadvantages of the park are that its large size can make it difficult to keep track of two or more kids, and the park sometimes needs a cleaning, parents said.
"It [the sand] gets a little dirty, but you deal with it," Jean-Charles said.
Past the bathrooms in the northern end of the park, a brown brick entrance opens up to a huge sprinkler area under a canopy of trees.
"It is about 10 degrees colder here than out there," said Annah Smyth, whose kids were utilizing the sprinkler area in the park.
The sprinkler park has four spouts shooting out of the sidewalls of the enclosure as screaming teenagers in endless water fights dodge the younger children.
Tables of birthday parties often line the area, along with a giant fence that puts parents' minds at ease.
"I only have to watch this exit and that exit," said Smyth, pointing to the two gates into the area.
There are a few downsides to the park, parents said.
"I wouldn't mind a fresh paint job and a little more aggressive rat patrol," Smyth said.
"It's simple," Lesley Garcia, 37, said of the small park sandwiched between East 1st and Houston streets, with its single sprinkler, play equipment, swing set and handball court.
"It's simple and not a lot of big kids come here," added Garcia, whose 4-year-old daughter enjoyed the park on a recent hot day. "That is my biggest problem at other parks."
The single sprinkler spouts enough water into the air to drench a handful of kids in seconds.
The park with its fenced perimeter provides plenty of security, though some parents raised concerns about the tiny fish sculptures surrounding the sprinkler, which could be a sharp tripping hazard.
With an Olympic-size pool and sprinklers, Hamilton Fish Park provides the ultimate cooling off experience.
"It is clean and the people are quiet," said Paula Jaimez, 39, visiting the park with her three children, ages 1, 2 and 10.
While the four jets spurt plenty of water, the concert blocks and ground were a concern for 52-year-old East Village mother Lisa.
"It's a parent's nightmare because it's all concrete," she said. "You have to be willing to let your kid take a fall, but it's cold water on a hot day."