Mayor Vincent C. Gray kicked off the District’s pool season at Barry Farm Recreation Center Friday, but he stayed dry.
Gray, like predecessor Adrian M. Fenty, abandoned the summer rite of a mayoral dip made legendary by former Mayor Anthony A. Williams.
But Jesus Aguirre, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, made a splash instead. Gray led dozens of children in a count-off for Aguirre’s jump into the Southeast pool. The jump was a bit of a surprise: a fully dressed Aguirre stripped down to swim clothes as if her were a superhero.
“I’ve been rehearsing for this for several months,” he said jokingly in an interview. “I consulted with experts...attempting to carry on the tradition.”
The city’s 17 outdoor pools will open at noon Saturday and will be open Memorial Day and each weekend until the pools expand hours when school ends June 20. Nine spray parks will also open.
City officials had feared Thursday night that the pool season would be delayed because of the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s nationwide recall of certain pool drain covers. But just four “kiddie” pools - Harry Thomas, Upshur, Theodore Hafans and Rumsey - are affected.
Gray said the city will soon have more announcements about summer programs, including the Summer Youth Employment Program and a “Live Well DC!” campaign to keep the city fit and healthy. “Almost every agency has a role to play in making sure we have a safe, fun summer,” he said.
About 12,000 youths will participate in the annual Summer Youth Employment Program, which is being significantly scaled back under Gray because of budget cuts and an effort to improve a program that was criticized for overspending and mismanagement under the Fenty administration.
Gray said there are plans underway to employ more than the 12,000 but he offered no details.
The focus Friday was on the health campaign under the Department of Health. Gray is being called a “coach” along with other residents in each of the city’s wards. They attended Friday’s event. “These are folks just like you and me, but they do exercise every day, regularly,” said Mohammad N. Akhter, the health department’s doctor.
Akhter said the campaign will be advertised on Metro and other places. Gray is included in one advertisement participating in his hobby of hand dancing with Sheila Cutchlow, a Ward 4 resident.