The lifeguards are ready. Residents are ready. And Friday afternoon, so was Mayor Nutter, as he jumped into the cool water of Kelly Pool in West Philadelphia to officially open the city's pool season.
There was much to celebrate. With a six-figure donation this month to the city's Splash and Summer Fund, all of the city's 70 outdoor pools will open this summer.
"It has real meaning for neighborhoods," Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis said of having every city pool open, "for children and families to gather and enjoy themselves during a hot and sticky summer.
Last summer, because of a budget shortfall, the city closed 27 pools, leaving residents in some neighborhoods to complain about why some were allowed to open while others remained shut.
This summer, several neighborhood groups started fund-raising to help the city come up with $600,000 to open every pool.
Through community-organized efforts such as a three-on-three men's basketball tournament, a talent show, and cow-chip bingo, plus donations from companies, the city was halfway toward its goal. A $400,000 check from First Niagara Bank this month put it over the top. Any unspent money will be carried over to next year's budget.
Along with supplying a haven from the heat and a place to exercise, city pools create about 800 seasonal jobs, including 400 lifeguard positions.
DiBerardinis said the pools would be fully staffed and operate under a standard schedule of opening by July 6 and closing around Aug. 20. They will open on a staggered schedule over the next few weeks.
Over the summer, DiBerardinis figures, more than a million swimmers will splash their way into the pools.
"It's a highly utilized asset," he said, "and one that provides real relief and enjoyment in neighborhoods."
First Group of Open Pools
Fox Chase, Rockwell Avenue and Ridgeway Street
Bridesburg. Richmond and Ash Streets
Awbury, Ardleigh and Haines Streets
Mander, 33d and Diamond Streets
Cohocksink, Cedar and Cambria Streets
Kelly, 281 North Concourse Dr.
Vare, 26th and Morris Streets
Mitchell, Morrell and Crown Avenues
Jardel, Cottman Avenue and Pennway Street
Feltonville, Ella Street and Wyoming Avenue
Marian Anderson, 17th and Fitzwater Streets
Lee, 44th Street and Haverford AvenueEndText