LONDON (AP) – Dip, don’t wade.

Devotees of Princess Diana got their first look Friday at the remodeled fountain built in her honor, now encircled with a security fence fitted with signs warning against wading – and a rougher bottom just in case someone does.

The $6.5 million fountain was closed July 22 after it clogged with leaves and three people, including a child, slipped and injured themselves.

The reviews, like those for most things having to do with the late princess, were mixed.

“Diana would have wanted for people to walk around in it and now they cannot,” said John Loughrey, who arrived at the Hyde Park site draped in a red, white and blue British flag and clutching 10 red roses as a tribute.

He approved, however, of efforts to make the fountain safer.

“Diana is one big star in the universe and she is expanding and people will keep coming here,” Loughrey said. “It should not be slippery and children and adults should be allowed to walk around and play in it.”

Diana Paterson, 60, from South Africa, was more positive.

“I like how people can interact with it and reach it. It is not a static memorial. Diana was very much a hands-on person, and this memorial is the same concept,” Paterson said.

The fountain, designed by American architect Karen Gustafson and built of 545 blocks of Cornish granite, is an oval, roughly 260 feet by 165 feet. Water flows from the highest point down both sides; at some places the flow is agitated, at others calm. Visitors can sit on the edges and dangle their feet.

Architect Neil Porter, with the firm Gustafson Porter, said the problems couldn’t have been anticipated.

“Of course, nobody could have suspected some of the problems that have occurred and we have spent the last few weeks addressing those issues,” Porter said.

“I think when there were literally thousands of people all taking their shoes and socks off, all getting into the memorial, it was no longer a memorial to the princess. It was more like a playground. That is an unusual situation and one we could not have anticipated.”

One mother was disappointed her kids couldn’t wade in the water.

“It is a shame that they can’t go in it and run and splash because children like that,” said Angela Ellam, 40, who came with 10-year-old Jodie and 8-year-old Connor. “Other than that, it is lovely.”

Paul Patterson, 41, from Newcastle, dismissed the fountain as “a bit bland … looks like a concrete drain.” However, he added, “It has got to be a good thing that it’s a bit safer, especially for children.”

Pauline Teal, 45, from Batley, England, said she hoped the fountain would stay open now for public enjoyment.

“It is a focal point for a lot of people who will want to come and sit here and think about Diana and her life,” Teal said.


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