As Sydney Ryan, 10, of Westminster, came out of the pool with her water noodle Saturday, she said goodbye to another year of summer fun. Sydney's father, David Ryan, said they've spent many days this summer at the Westminster Municipal Pool, but Saturday would likely be their last visit of the season.
By midday, morning clouds gave way to bright sunshine that raised the pool water temperature from bone-chilling to mildly tolerable, not that it mattered to the couple dozen children willing to take one last dive before returning back to their regular school schedule after Labor Day weekend. While kids took their turns splashing down the pool's slide, others enjoyed a late-summer pizza party on the grounds.
Ryan said the relatively mild summer this year hadn't discouraged Sydney from visiting the pool as often as possible before its seasonal closing date of Labor Day.
"It's actually been very pleasant," Ryan said. "It makes it easier to play basketball or for her to play on the jungle gym. My wife doesn't like the heat, so it's easier on her to come down."
This summer, temperatures in Maryland have hovered near their average temperature of 86 degrees in June, 91 degrees in July and 88 degrees in August, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Despite the trend toward normality, mid-July — often one of the hottest parts of the year — saw a particularly cold snap, with Baltimore setting a record low temperature of 57 degrees, adding to the perception of the mild summer.
Not everyone stayed in Carroll for the long weekend. According to a news release from AAA Mid-Atlantic, more Marylanders — nearly 728,000 — will be traveling at least 50 miles for the long weekend, a higher number than in the last five years.
According to AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Ragina Cooper-Averella, one of the possible reasons for the increase in traffic is the particularly low cost of gasoline right now, averaging just $3.38 a gallon. This price represents the lowest cost of gas since 2010, and is currently 6 cents below the national average. Cooper-Averella also cited the early date of the holiday weekend — with Labor Day occurring on its earliest possible date, Sept. 1.
This summer, State Comptroller Peter Franchot has been spearheading a campaign to hold the first day of school after Labor Day weekend. Christine Feldmann, spokeswoman for the comptroller's office, said he is currently hosting a petition drive to gather 10,000 signatures to present to the Maryland General Assembly, proposing a statewide initiative.
"The idea behind the campaign is that it would help small business and the tourism industry," Feldmann said. "It also helps seasonal workers and allows time for families to be together during the summer."
Feldmann said though there isn't a specific proposal for what to do with the lost week of schooling that would result from moving the start of the year back, school systems should be able to adjust their calendars on an individual basis.
Ryan said he would be interested in having a slightly longer summer break.
"When I was in school, it always started up after Labor Day," Ryan said. "I think it would be good for the kids to finish up the summer with the Labor Day weekend."
After all the kids have been cleared from the area, the pool will have one last shaggy celebration following Labor Day before closing its doors for the rest of the year — the Pooch Pool Party. During the event, residents can bring their dogs to swim in the pool with other pups. Dogs participating must have their current rabies tag and a collar or harness.