KEARNEY, NE — If you were to anoint a city as Kayaktown, USA… Kearney, Nebraska would be a pretty good choice.

The Kearney Whitewater Association started in 2011 as a small group informally floating a forgotten stretch of water. 11 years later, there’s a 2.3-mile water trail on Turkey Creek, and as of Thursday, a brand new whitewater park.

“Ultimately, it was really about brainstorming at the start. It was really about what was possible," KWA President Kevin Witte said. "Now we’re getting the chance to realize one of our biggest goals.”

Witte says construction on the nearly $700,000 project lasted about four months. The improvements include boulders and terraces around the creek and a couple more entrances. The star features are two drops, one near Kearney Cinema 8 and another a quarter-mile downstream.

“When you’re on the water, it looks a lot bigger than probably what it does when you’re up above it," Witte said. "You do kind of have to collect yourself a little bit on that part of it.”

That’s something Past President Duane Franzluebbers found out on Thursday.

“Tonight was actually my first night taking through the features here. Let’s just say, you’re going to get a little wet," Franzluebbers said. "That’s what makes this fun, getting a little splash to you and enjoying the moment.”

KWA hopes there’s lots of moments shared at the park this summer and beyond.

“It’s pretty easy to live in a community and not notice what you have in your backyard," Witte said. "The reality of this water trail and the reality of this whitewater park is that we’ve got something pretty special here.”

The project was funded largely by private donations.

The Kearney Whitewater Association has about 100 members and has cleared more than 20 tons of trash and debris from the waterway.