Changing situations can sometimes be challenging and create uncertainty, but Ceraland’s 2014 decision to open itself to the general public is an example that good things can happen even when the future isn’t set.
The park, located at 3989 S. County Road 525E, southeast of Columbus, opened in 1963 as Cummins Employees Recreation Association, a haven for fun for Cummins employees and their families. It received financial support from vending machine proceeds collected at Cummins’ southern Indiana manufacturing plants.
Over time, though, funding from the machines declined, and the company chose to switch from that business model. In 2013, Cummins turned the park over to CERA Sports Corp, a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, which made Ceraland a community park — and one that was self-sustaining.
Opening to the general public not only has covered the park’s operational costs, but also has made it even more of a community and regional asset. Rising attendance attests to that.
Visitors are coming not only from Bartholomew County, but also from neighboring counties and other parts of south-central and southern Indiana, and they are making full use of the park’s 345 acres, 11-acre lake, 35-site campground, aquatic center, miniature golf course and sports fields.
Before the change in business model, the park averaged about 75,000 visitors annually. Attendance grew to 160,000 in 2015, more than 200,000 in 2016 and about 250,000 people are expected to visit this year.
Ceraland’s board of directors and Jim Kreutzjans, the park’s executive director, deserve credit for how the park has adapted. Ceraland not only has survived, but is thriving. That’s a testament to the park’s leadership, and the work done to make the park and its amenities so attractive.
Most importantly, the park is a benefit to Bartholomew County and area sports and outdoor enthusiasts.
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