It’s a clear sign that things are getting back to normal: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser opened the District’s swimming pools Friday.
It was a celebration in Southeast D.C. as Bowser cut the ribbon on the newly renovated and renamed Woody Ward Recreation Center, officially opening D.C.'s public outdoor pools for the first time since summer 2019.
"It's a relief, because this is a community pool, and it's free," said D.C. resident Raye Allen.
D.C. pools officially open Saturday. For families that attended Friday's kickoff, the opening of community pools and splash parks comes as great news after more than a year of restrictions and lockdowns.
"Last year — I live right over there — I was looking at out the window every day, hoping the pool would open," Allen said. "It's a great relief."
"It was a very tough decision for us last year not to open our pools," Bowser said.
Some pools in the area won’t be opening this weekend due to a shortage of lifeguards. A notice was sent to residents in one Chevy Chase high-rise.
But D.C.'s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has been ready to open since last year.
"Staffing has been a challenge throughout the country, but we anticipated this. We started very early," said DPR Director Delano Hunter.
And while the opening day of D.C.'s public pools has traditionally meant a mayoral cannonball into a pool — a custom started by former Mayor Anthony Williams and continued by mayors including Bowser — on Friday, Bowser opted out of the tradition. But that doesn't mean there wasn’t an opening day cannonball. A child helped out in that area.
D.C. has 18 outdoor pools and 31 splash parks. The splash parks will be open daily starting Saturday. The pools will be open for the three-day weekend including Memorial Day, and then on weekends only until June 28. After that, they'll be open six days per week; see the schedules here.
Face coverings are required for all visitors over age 2 when indoors, including in locker rooms and rec centers, and on the pool deck for visitors who are not fully vaccinated.