Abington’s Island Grove Pool – a town summertime tradition for nearly 60 years – opens for the season on Saturday with games, contests, and free hotdogs.
“We know how much everyone enjoys being able to hang out at the Grove especially on a hot summer day, so we’re excited and ready to welcome everybody back,” said Rachel Collins, chairwoman of the Abington Parks & Rec Committee.
The pool is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., from Saturday until Aug. 13. Season-long passes are $100 for Abington residents, and $165 for non-residents. Passes can be bought online or at the pool’s snack shack.
Day passes are also available for $5 for residents and $8 for non-residents. They can also be bought at the shack.
But anyone can stop by on Saturday when the temperature is supposed to hit 90 degrees. Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., lifeguards will be hosting a sand castle building contest, a cannonball contest, and other games, as well as handing out free hot dogs.
Abington Recreation Director Kelly Johnson said the Grove Pool is employing 18 lifeguards this season, “our biggest group yet.”
Only three of the lifeguards are new, with many of the staff now in their third or fourth year on duty. The lifeguards, who all have their lifeguard certifications, also received training from the Abington Fire Department yesterday, Johnson said.
The pool was built in historic Island Grove Park in the mid-1960s. The water is filtered and chlorinated before being pumped into the middle of the pool.
Johnson said the Department of Public Works drained and cleaned the sandy bottom pool back in early May. Lifeguards have spent the last two weeks putting in the docks and cleaning up the facility.
Town Meeting approved $60,000 in Community Preservation Act funds to replace the pool’s snack shack, which is several decades old. That work won’t take place until either the fall or next spring.
Although the pool is open for use starting at 11 a.m., Johnson wants visitors to be aware that campers at the town’s Eager Beaver Program also use the pool twice a day during weekdays. Campers walk down from the grove’s program site and swim from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., and again from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Collins reminded people that swimming is only allowed during posted hours, when lifeguards are on duty. Those caught swimming after hours can be cited for trespassing.
The last couple summers at Island Grove have been marred by groups illegally swimming after hours, vandalizing the grounds, and, at times, harassing other park visitors. Earlier this month Abington Police Chief David Del Papa told selectmen officers have twice in recent weeks been confronted by “unruly” groups in the park. He said officers are doing regular checks in the park, as staffing allows. The park also has a number of security cameras to catch trouble-makers.
Johnson asked that visitors to the pool be respectful of both the property and the lifeguards.
“The lifeguards are there for everybody’s safety and to make sure everybody can enjoy the pool,” she said. “We want to make sure people know that if they’re giving instructions for any reason, they’re not doing it to be mean, but because it’s important.”
(DISCLOSURE: The author of this article is the spouse of the chairwoman of the Abington Parks & Rec Committee)