Meet the man behind Big Surf, the world's first wave pool

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by Yetta Gibson

azfamily.com

Posted on August 12, 2011 at 11:39 AM

Updated Saturday, Oct 12 at 11:38 AM

TEMPE, Ariz. -- School is back in for most kids, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still cool off and chill out at Big Surf Waterpark.

Arizona is one of the only places where you can enjoy a water park past Labor Day. It's also the place where the concept of a wave pool, Big Surf’s original claim to fame, was born.

It started as just an idea by a man named Phil Dexter back in 1965.

“I’ve always loved the water,” he said. “I just had a fascination with waves. I don’t know how else to put it.”

Dexter designed and made models for the wave pool and then went out looking for investors to help him bring his plan to fruition.

Clairol, yes, the company that makes the hair products, heard about his plan and put up most of money to make it happen.

"We had press like you wouldn't believe once it exploded. The name Clairol didn’t hurt either,” Dexter recalled.

Back then, Dexter was about 40 years old. He’s now 84 and lives in Connecticut.

He’s shocked when he sees what is Big Surf Waterpark has become. He can't believe how his idea swirled into something so big.

“I didn’t think I had an idea of how mammoth it was going to be really because it was so hard to fathom,” Dexter said.

For more information about Big Surf, go to BigSurfFun.com.

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