Mayor makes a splash, kicking off pool season

The lifeguards are ready. Residents are ready. And this afternoon so was the mayor as he jumped into the cool water of Kelly Pool in West Philadelphia to offically kickoff pool season.

There was also much to celebrate. The city raised enough money to open all of its 70 outdoor pools this summer.

"It has real meaning for neighborhoods," said Parks and Recreation commissioner Michael DiBerardinis, of having every city pool open, "for children and families to gather and enjoy themselves during a hot and sticky summer.

Last season, due to a budget gap, the city closed 27 of its pools, leaving residents in some neighborhoods to complain why some pools were allowed to open while others remained shut.

This summer, several neighborhood groups started fund-raising to help the city raise $600,000 to open every pool. Along with private donations, the city was halfway toward its goal, when a $400,000 check from First Niagara Bank put it over the top.

About seven pools opened today throughout the city; five are scheduled to open tomorrow. The remaining pools will open on a staggered schedule over the next few weeks, with all pools open by July 6.

Over the summer, DiBerardinis figures, more than a million swimmers will splash their way into the pools.

"It’s a highly utilized asset," he continued, "and one that provides real relief and enjoyment in neighborhoods."