PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The traditional kickoff to the summer season is a little different this year.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are no parades, commemorations in large groups, and even the swimming pools are closed.
In North Park on Monday, the tennis courts were full, walkers and cyclists circled the path and boaters and kayakers drifted on the lake.
“It’s gorgeous out,” Bob Dabney of Robinson Township said. “If you walk through the park, you see a lot of people and it seems like everybody’s having a good time.”
But while some folks have gathered for picnics on the lakeside, on closer inspection, the vast majority of the normally packed shelters around the park are empty.
The park’s main attraction, the sprawling swimming pool, is dry on what would have been its opening weekend.
“I want to go swimming,” Rico Fazio of Bloomfield said. “That’s what they’re there for. Open them up.”
There will be no relief on this hot day but perhaps on the horizon.
Since Gov. Tom Wolf said pools can open in the “yellow” and “green” phases, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald told KDKA’s Andy Sheehan he’ll be looking at that possibility and so is the City of Pittsburgh.
“I’d like to see the pools open safely if we can open them safely. And if the cost isn’t so exorbitant that the taxpayers can’t afford it. I’d like to make sure whatever we do, it’s safe and affordable for our children,” City Council President Theresa Kail Smith said.
Opening up the pools at this point would be a daunting task. Trained lifeguards are in short supply and social distancing guidelines would have to be followed.
Fitzgerald told KDKA’s Andy Sheehan that if the pools open, it would be late June at the earliest.
But on this traditional opening day of the season, people are staying closer to home and looking at alternatives to beat the sudden heat.
Memorial Day shopping on McKnight Road was sluggish with one notable exception at Pool City.
“We’re going to see if we can find a little inflatable pool for the kids. It’s hot out. Something for them to do,” said Clint Richter.
Richter is buying a little pool for his son, Ozzie, so he can stay cool until this blows over.