All 70 of the city’s pools will be open this summer, with full funding from the city; Mayor Michael Nutter announced Monday at the Awbury Recreation Center in Mount Airy.
“Nothing means summer like the opening of our pools,” said the mayor, conspicuous in his suit and tie as he spoke to a group of kids anxiously waiting to leap in the water.
Nutter did not take a plunge into the pool — a Philadelphia tradition started by former Gov. Ed Rendell, but said he had planned to.
“I fully expected to do that today,” he told reporters, adding that because of time constraints he couldn’t. “It takes extra time … I have to comb my hair.”
He was joined by Councilwoman Cindy Bass and Recreation Commissioner Susan Slawson and about 40 kids who helped them celebrate by jumping into the pool as Nutter sounded a lifeguard’s whistle, officially marking the start of summer.
This is the first year the city has been able to fully fund pool operations since the financial crisis ravaged the city’s budget just prior to the 2009 pool season. For the last three years the city has asked for donations to raise the money to open the pools through private donations. Even with the budget uncertainty this year the city was able to cover the complete cost this year.
Nutter also took a few seconds to discuss the other summer programs taking place throughout the city.
“No one should be complaining this summer that they are bored and don’t have anything to do,” he said.
Among the most important programs is the Summer Meals Program.
As Nutter spoke, city officials laid out pre-packaged lunches for children visiting the pool. Last year the city served 2.8 million meals to 900,000 children through the program. But, Nutter noted that about 41,000 kids who could have taken part in the program — based on free and reduced lunch data from the school district — failed to do so.
This year meals will be provided between June 18 and Aug. 31, to children up to 18. All the child has to do is show up.
Meals are served at about 1,000 sites across the city at schools, recreation centers, YMCAs, churches, playgrounds, play streets or city parks
On a sterner note, the mayor also reminded the city’s youth that the end of the school year meant more stringent curfew guidelines. Children 13 years old and younger must be off the street by 9 p.m.; youngsters 14 and 15 by 10 p.m. and youth 16 and 17 by 11 p.m.
“We are serious about enforcing the curfew,” Nutter said, adding that police would use their discretion when needed. As an example, the mayor used a teen with a summer job.
“If you have a summer job that keeps you out past curfew you will not automatically be in trouble if you show the officer your ID,” he said.
The city enacted a new curfew last summer after a series of high profile crimes — notably flash mobs in Center City — involving the city’s youth.