Pickerington residents and those from surrounding communities are finding recreation and a sense of normalcy at the Pickerington Community Pool after it opened June 15.
As soon as the pool opened at 11 a.m., a crowd of about 30 people made their way through the gates of the pool and, in no time, were swimming and splashing about.
For most, visits to the pool are a big part of what summer is all about, and they said they were happy to be able to get back into the swing of things.
The pool's opening this year was delayed because of COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic guidelines two days earlier.
"It's our first day," said Marisa Cassette, who brought her four children to the pool June 17. "My sister came yesterday and told us we needed to come.
"It's perfect. We're relieved, happy -- absolutely."
Cassette and her children -- Ava Karl-Cassette, 12, A.J. Karl-Cassette, 10, Maddox Van, 11, and Gracyn Van, 7, -- came from Blacklick and, during the 11 a.m.-to-2 p.m. session, were taking full advantage of all the features available, including open-swim areas, diving boards and water slides.
"We're usually going to the New Albany pool, but they're closed," Cassette said. "So we did a search, and we found Pickerington was doing their pool, so this is where we'll be.
"I'm a teacher, so my summer is absolutely spent with the kids doing fun things with them. Swimming is part of that plan during the summer."
As part of precautions to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, the city has limited pool admission to 125 people per three-hour session.
Day passes for the time slots -- 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. -- are available for purchase via cityofpickerington.activityreg.com beginning at 7 a.m. each day.
Each time slot costs $6 for residents and $8 for others. Multiple time slots may be purchased daily. Children ages 3 and younger will be admitted for free, but online registration is required.
Between each session, pool employees work for 30 minutes sanitizing facilities for the next group of swimmers.
"We've done all our cleaning every hour and deep-cleaning between the breaks," said Becca Medinger, Pickerington parks and recreation director. "Everyone's been happy, happy as can be, just to have a pool."
According to pool employees, crowds ranging from 38 to 110 had signed up to swim during the sessions in the first three days.
On June 17, a total of 84 people had registered to swim, and Medinger said the numbers sometimes go up as the days progress.
"It's slowly getting out that we're open," she said. "I think as it gets warmer, our numbers will go up."
Medinger said the city is following state guidelines, which resulted in the pool slides being opened in time for the shortened season. Originally, the slides were going to remain closed, but state officials lifted restrictions on playground equipment June 10.
"The splash pad could be open," Medinger said.
"We chose not to open it yet and just figure out our spacing first and then gradually bring that back in."
In addition to capping the number of patrons to 125 per session, pool basketball hoops, lounge chairs and picnic tables will be removed to help maintain distancing guidelines.
Guests are permitted to bring their own chairs.
Laura Shank of Pickerington said it was plenty warm enough to swim June 17 as she followed her sons, Oliver, 4, and Henry, 5, around the shallow end of the pool.
She said the water was "perfect," and she was happy her children could indulge in the time-honored summer tradition.
"We're excited," Shank said. '"It gives us something we can do outside and it looks like they're doing everything they can to keep it clean and sanitized."