It may have been a cool Monday afternoon, but that didn’t seem to bother several dozen children who waited patiently at the Awbury Recreation Center’s swimming pool for the official start of 2012 pool season.
With swimsuits on, the kids sat poolside chanting the rules of the Northwest Philadelphia pool with a lifeguard. They also listened for their signal to jump in, that being a whistle blown by Mayor Michael Nutter.
The mayor, who typically jumps in the pool with them, said time constraints prevented him from taking a dip. He noted, however, that this event is the best indicator that summer has started. (In this case, it was two days before the season’s calendar debut.)
“We are tremendously excited about the kickoff of another wonderful summer in Philadelphia, and pool season,” said Nutter. “Just like every summer, families, friends and neighbors have places where they love to come together and share great memories and it’s important to provide access to our pools to all city residents.”
Summer campaign extends beyond swimming
Nutter also spoke about the “Fun Safe Philly Summer” campaign, which is a collaborative effort between city agencies, departments and external partners including the Coalition Against Hunger and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
The campaign includes the Summer Reading Challenge in which children between the ages of 5 and 18 are asked to complete three book reports which they submit to any Free Library of Philadelphia branch. By doing so, they have a chance to win tickets to local concerts and sporting events.
Children between the age of 13 and 18 can also enter the raffle by doing community service for more than 10 hours throughout the city.
A good impression
Tasha Boles, a parent of an 8-year-old, said she was unaware that the Mayor was going to be there. She said she was happy she came.
“I think it was so nice of him to come see, and talk about, the positive things the kids are doing,” said Boles, who visits Awbury three days a week even though Lonnie Young Recreation Center is closer to her home.
Also on hand was Eighth District City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who reflected on childhood experiences at her neighborhood pool in North Philadelphia.
Awbury was one of nine pools which opened on Monday. Nutter said the remaining 60 will open within the next two weeks.