Dozens of residents streamed into the Model City’s two outdoor pools on the first day they were opened for the summer.
With the sun high overhead, younger patrons splashed in a kiddie pool and its fountain, older visitors stretched out on towels to sunbathe, and parents perched around the edges of the pool to keep their eyes on their charges.
“I’m happy when I’m here,” said 7-year-old Ka’Mari Reed during a break from the kiddie pool at the Washington Swim Center at Nettles Park. The Cobb Elementary School student said her favorite part about coming to the pool is playing volleyball in the water.
Todd Russell, center director, said when staff came to the swim center Friday to clean up before opening day, about 15 people approached them to see if they’d be allowed in to swim.
When staff returned Saturday to open up the pool for the season, he said, patrons “were here waiting for us to come in.”
By about 1:30 Saturday afternoon, the pools each had more than three dozen patrons, with more steadily streaming in as the afternoon progressed.
At Carver Center, Tomika Brimm was sitting on a bench watching her nephews and step-daughter enjoy the water. “They were excited about coming,” she said. “They woke up early ready to go swimming.”
“I’ve been waiting for it to open,” said Quinntavion Elston, 13, as he took a break from the Carver pool. He said he comes to the pool a lot during the summer and likes to do flips off the diving board.
Terrance Hunter, 9, was at the Washington pool with his twin sister Tiarraha. Terrance, who likes to do backflips under the water, said his favorite part of coming is “to enjoy it with my favorite friends and just get to hang around.”
Patrick Watkins has been coming to the Washington pool since he was 13. On Saturday, he brought his two sons and five other kids to enjoy an afternoon at the pool.
Watkins said he and his children eagerly await the opening of the pool each year, so when his son called to tell him Saturday was the day, he promised to take them for the afternoon.
The longtime patron of the pool said the familiarity of the children with one another and the staff creates an atmosphere of true community where he’s never seen problems arise.
“The staff they have every year be cool, be respectful; the children be respectful,” he said. “I’ve never felt uncomfortable coming here.”
Russell said Parks and Recreation always opens the pools on Memorial Day weekend. The facilities will be open Tuesday through Saturday from noon until 5 p.m. through Aug. 10.
Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.