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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Canonsburg Town Pool

Canonsburg pool to be celebrated with a splash
Festivities slated to mark 75 years
Thursday, July 15, 2010
In its earlier days, Canonsburg's Town Park Pool was the backdrop for ski demonstrations and motorboat races -- spectacles that regularly attracted hundreds of summer revelers.
"They even had a horse come off the high dive into the water at one point," borough manager Terry Hazlett said with a laugh. "You'd see people on both sides of that pool."

The celebration will be held from noon to 8:30 p.m. Sunday. The pool opens at noon, with a DJ from then until 5:30, a magician from 12:30-2, a palm reader from 1-3, a clown from 2-4, a juggler from 4-5:30 and a ceremony honoring former employees and volunteers from 4-4:30. The Four Townsmen will have a concert from 6-8:30 p.m.
Details: Terry Hazlett at 724-745-1800, ext. 14.

Canonsburg celebrates 75 years of memories at the pool from noon to 8:30 p.m. Sunday with a special admission price of 25 cents -- what it cost an adult to swim on its opening day on July 4, 1935.
Mr. Hazlett said Town Park's was the largest municipal pool in Washington County -- one that takes 60 hours to fill -- and that the borough felt it was important to honor what he said had long been a cornerstone of community pride.
"There is a heart and a soul to the community. One is the downtown and the other is the park," he said. "I don't know which is which, but they are both important."
Sheryl Gadani, who chairs the celebration committee, said a disc jockey, magician, palm reader, clown and juggler would perform throughout the day, and that a 4 p.m. ceremony would honor former Town Park employees and volunteers.
At that time, Canonsburg Council and its parks and recreation board will unveil a plaque to honor the late Frank "Fritz" Scarci, who was a longtime manager of Town Park.
Then at 6 p.m., The Four Townsmen will play a free show at the concert stage.
While Mr. Hazlett and Mrs. Gadani hope droves of residents turn out to help celebrate the milestone birthday, they concede that it would be difficult to trump the attendance it experienced when the pool was finally unveiled.
After being delayed several times in 1935, hundreds of people rushed in to be among the first to experience the new swimming hole -- a phenomenon that reportedly had someone call the police to report a riot.
By the end of that afternoon, Town Park was swarming with thousands of people. While some came to swim and sunbathe, others sat on the adjacent hillsides to picnic and take in the excitement.
"It is difficult for me to fathom 1,000 people up there on a daily basis," Mr. Hazlett said. "We had 700 people show up to swim on the Fourth of July, and it was packed."
But then, times have changed since 1935.
"These days people have their own pools or they go and do 100 other things that are available to them," he said. "Back then you didn't have computers and you also didn't have air conditioning. Now, every weekend there is an event."
Mr. Hazlett said that when the pool opened, it was so popular that the owner of a local shop, Gibson's Men's Store, set up a stand in Town Park that sold and even rented bathing suits, swim caps and rubber beach balls.
Although that stand shuttered decades ago, Canonsburg has continued to build its Town Park and invest in its pool -- thanks largely to grants from the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
The borough received $600,000 in grants last year, which paid for a new gutter and filter system. New side liners also were installed and a serious leak was repaired. The borough also kicked in money to install new slides.
"Some people might think that's superfluous, but we have to compete with the other pools," he said. "Kids don't care about history; they care about having fun."
And Mayor David Rhome said Town Park has fun cornered.
"For the most part, whatever you're looking for in a fun, relaxing day is right here in Town Park," he said. "And 75 years later the park and the pool are just as beautiful as it was back then."
And just to be clear, Mr. Hazlett added: "Sorry, there won't be any horses high diving or motor boats racing."


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