For many in the Capital Region, Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of the swimming season.
Though the holiday pays respect to our nation’s fallen soldiers, it is often a weekend for family gatherings, cookouts and outdoor activities. Swimming is usually a favorite pastime if the weather cooperates.
With temperatures reaching the upper 80s on Sunday and expected to get into the 90s by Tuesday, plenty of families were seeking ways to cool off.
“We usually come to the pool this weekend every year, but today it’s also very warm out,” said Kristie Aussicker, who was spending the day at Clifton Park’s Barney Road Town Pool with her husband and three girls.
The three town pools in Clifton Park open each year the Sunday before Memorial Day. Aussicker said coming to the pool opening weekend has become a family tradition since they became members 12 years ago.
“It’s hard to find an activity everyone enjoys,” she said of the children between 6 and 14 years old. “Swimming is something we all agree on.”
Her 14-year-old daughter, Whitney, said the pool has become the summer hangout for the Shenendehowa student and her friends, who also have passes.
“We always come here once it opens,” she said, explaining that going to the pool is a cheap activity since her parents pay for the family pass.
Scott Marr of Clifton Park was also at the pool with his family, though he said this is their first year visiting on opening day.
The University at Albany men’s lacrosse coach said his family is usually cheering on his team at the NCAA men’s lacrosse semifinals, but the team missed out this year.
“It’s a change of pace for us, but we all love the pool and it’s such a nice day,” he said.
The Marr family lives just down the street from the pool, so they walk there together nearly every day once it opens. They’ve been members for 10 years, and Scott likes it more than owning a pool because it’s less expensive, he doesn’t have to clean it and there is always a lifeguard on duty.
“It’s hassle-free,” he explained.
Pool Manager Dave Czechowski said about 150 people would have visited the pool by day’s end.
“We’ve had a pretty good turnout. There were more people than usual today because of the warm weather,” he said, “though the regulars are always here. We have some who want to be the first ones in the pool at the beginning of the season and the last ones out at the end of the season.”
Other pools and lakes opened for the first time this weekend as well.
The beach at Moreau Lake State Park in Saratoga County opened Saturday, along with the private pool at The Edison Club in Rexford.
Assistant Manager Sandy Lindner said the club’s pool opens for the year each Memorial Day weekend and it too was busier than usual.
“We have a good crowd because of the weather,” she said.
Though many residential pools in the area remained closed, stores like Lowes and Walmart in Glenville are preparing for the summer season. They are stocked with pool accessories and toys.
Public pools in the cities of Schenectady and Albany open in June once school lets out. Because the public pool in Central Park wasn’t an option, Danielle DiGiuseppe of Schenectady took her three daughters and their dog, Duke, swimming in Collins Lake in Scotia on Sunday.
She said it was tradition to take the kids swimming Memorial Day weekend.
“I practically lived in this park,” said DiGiuseppe, who grew up in Scotia.
She said when she was young the town paid for a bus to pick up children from Scotia and Glenville to take them to the park for the day and bring them back.
“It was great. We took swimming lessons and played basketball and ate ice cream.”
She said she wanted her children, ages 2, 4 and 12, to have similar experiences, and they often choose Collins Park over the pool in Central Park because of the crowd.
“We come once a weekend in the summer and bring the dog,” she added. “Then we can also have ice cream and listen to the concerts.”