The city’s parks and recreation department celebrated the summer’s first pool openings in Bridesburg Monday featuring a guest appearance from former Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt. The occasion also marked the grand opening of the new Bridesburg pool, which underwent $3.7 million worth of renovations.
So far, four other opening dates have been set for River Wards area public pools. Cione Recreation Center’s brand new pool, located at 2600 E. Aramingo Ave., opened Tuesday, June 18. Additionally, Northern Liberties Recreation Center, located 321 Fairmount Ave., will open Thursday, June 20 and Samuel Recreation Center, located at 3539 Gaul St., will open Friday, June 21. No other pool opening dates in the area have been announced yet, but they will be released “soon,” according to parks and rec spokesperson Alain Joinville.
The Bridesburg location was selected because of the rec center’s brand new pool.
“Not only are we kicking off an amazing new pool season, but we are dedicating this beautiful new pool,” said Philadelphia parks and recreation commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. “It’s an amazing thing to see all these pools open up throughout the city. When you can’t get down the sure, you can’t get to Disney World, you can’t get to Dorney Park, you can head right over to your neighborhood pool and enjoy a really safe and fun summer in the sun.”
Schmidt, who was diagnosed with Melanoma five years ago, was present to promote The RDK Melanoma Foundation and the Mike Schmidt Sun Smart USA program’s initiative to install sunscreen dispensers at public pools throughout the city. Currently, Schmidt is cancer-free.
“When I was a kid, I was at a pool every day,” Schmidt, who noted that his family owned a pool while he was growing up, said. ”In all my days at that pool as a young boy I never once used sunscreen. I never once used sun protection.”
Through Schmidt’s program, sunscreen dispensers have also been installed at Citizens Bank Park, Boathouse Row, Kelly Drive and City Hall.
The RDK Melanoma Foundation and the Mike Schmidt Sun Smart USA program was established in 2017 with a goal of making a positive impact in the fight to prevent skin cancer, especially melanoma, the deadliest form which is caused by exposure to ultraviolet light.
“My personal experience with melanoma has propelled me to take a leading role in helping communities be sun smart. With all of the fun outdoor activities that summer brings, it’s important to be aware of sun safety. That is why I am teaming up with the City of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Department to donate a sunscreen dispenser to the Bridesburg pool and 10 additional pools in the Philadelphia area,” said Mike Schmidt.
Schmidt said he’s convinced that his lack of use of sun protection as a child contributed to his cancer diagnosis. While speaking, Schmidt also praised Kenney’s Rebuild program, which is aimed at rebuilding recreation centers and playgrounds across the city.
“I’m so impressed with Mayor Kenney here and his mission with Rebuild Philadelphia,” Schmidt said. “I think it’s one of the most outstanding things that the mayor is doing, and I will be behind him 100 percent in that campaign.”
Near the end of the celebration, the rec center’s supervisor, John McBride, announced that the new pool at the Bridesburg Recreation Center is located would be christened “Miss Jackie’s Waves” in honor of Jacqueline DeSanctis, AKA Miss Jackie, who has worked for the Bridesburg Recreation Center for 60 years, partially as an employee and later a volunteer. In 2013, the stretch of Richmond Street outside of the recreation center was dubbed “Miss Jackie’s Way” in honor of DeScantis, according to McBride.
“Bridesburg is not anything without this woman,” McBride said.
The City employs approximately 800 seasonal staffers each summer who work as pool maintenance aides and lifeguards. Residents can find listings for pools by neighborhood at www.phila.gov/pools. The department encourages residents to contact their neighborhood pools for days and times of open swim, family swim, and adult swim, as well as swim lessons and swim team activities.
Correction: A previous version of this article said that it was announced that the stretch of Richmond Street outside of the recreation center had been dubbed “Miss Jackie’s Way” on Monday. In fact, this happened in 2013. The new pool, however, was christened “Miss Jackie’s Waves” on Monday.