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Signs of summer in Annapolis as the Kenneth R. Dunn Municipal Pool opens at Truxtun Park

Two young girls flew out red and green spiral slides, splashing into the clear blue pool water.

With the opening of the Kenneth R. Dunn Municipal Pool at Truxtun Park Saturday, some semblance of pre-coronavirus summers had arrived in Annapolis.

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City officials virtually cut the ribbon on the $4 million project Monday with the public allowed Saturday. By 3 p.m., about 100 people from the greater Annapolis area and beyond had filled two of four capacity-restricted windows of fun in the sun during a summer like none other this century.

Adults swam laps in the six-lane, 25-yard lap pool, while children crowded the curly slides and water spouts of the adjacent leisure pool. Some parents and grandparents took refuge from the 85-degree heat under umbrellas. Others watched and smiled at the prospects of their children socializing with others when such encounters have become few and far between.

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At a table near the snack bar, Ruby Broxton, of Eastport, read a book while three of her grandchildren played in the pool. When they’re with her she wants them away from phone, tablet and computer screens. But that’s been tougher to accomplish considering many summer activities were canceled to slow the spread of the virus.

“They needed to get out,” she said. Broxton paused, smiled and added, “They’re used to having an active summer. This summer has been very inactive — the socialization is off.”

There’s no avoiding the pandemic, not even at the grand opening of the municipal pool. COVID-19, the disease caused by the respiratory virus, has infected over 89,000 Marylanders as of Saturday morning and killed at least 3,374 more, according to state health data.

The pool staff was prepared. Every two hours the facility was shut down and all patrons instructed to leave. Meanwhile, lifeguards and support staff slapped on masks and gloves and performed a rigorous disinfecting regiment. The complex was divided into five zones and staff jumped into action, dumping chlorinated water on lounge chairs and wiping down all common surfaces with disinfectant.

At the front gate, pool staff checked pool-goers temperatures and asked a serious of questions about symptoms. If allowed entry, patrons go on to the front desk where masked staffers checked them in and collected pool fees, which vary across age groups for residents and non-residents. Then they were assigned one of three pool areas, each of which had a capacity.

“They did an excellent job cleaning everything,” said Dee Magruder, of Bowie. She’d been bringing her grandchildren to the pool at Truxtun Park for years and they couldn’t miss its reopening.

Hatleigh Magruder, 10, played tag, made lots of new friends and frequented the waterslide. “The red one is really fast. I think there’s one loop in it,” she said, warning that beginners may want to start out on the green one.

To use the slides, children had to pass a swim test in the lap pool with a lifeguard. That requirement was unpopular with Dermeterius Shaw, 8. He said he’d practice for the test and hoped to come back to the pool to celebrate his birthday later this month.

Dermeterius said he and his three siblings had a blast under the mechanical buckets dumping water. They swam and played underwater tag.

Leeron Shaw, who was splashing around with his children, said he’s made sure his children have had an awesome and adventurous summer. They’ve frequented parks for hikes and gone out on the water to fish and crab. Still, he said, his children have been eager for the pool to open, and it was nice to see everyone playing together and getting along swimmingly.

“Especially with all the turmoil that’s going on in the world, it’s nice to see everyone interacting with everyone, Shaw said.

Aquatic Supervisor Jennifer Jennings, of Annapolis’ Department of Recreation and Parks, was emotional to see people relishing the facility she’s been working on for two years. City leaders lauded their diligence earlier this week.

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“This is an amenity that will appeal to everyone,” Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson, D-Ward 4, said in a statement. “It will be a place for families to come for generations.”

As staff closed down and cleaned at about 3 p.m., Jennings took a moment to marvel at the facility. It features two pools — one with waterworks and a beach entry — a splash pad for the youngsters, pristine restrooms and changing rooms and the snack bar where patrons can enjoy a snowball to cool off. Her favorite parts, though, are the flower beds and the towering tree preserved during construction.

“It’s a country club feel at a municipal pool,” Jennings said.

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