When Mayor Anthony A. Williams kicked off the summer recreation season Wednesday with his annual cannonball into one of the city’s pools, he had lots of company. Reporters, a gaggle of city workers, and tons of news photographers were on hand to watch his final symbolic first-day-of-summer plunge at the Turkey Thicket Recreation Center.
Lots of children were looking on, too.
Dozens of kids who had come to Turkey Thicket waited for their first summer swim in the rec-center lobby. Parents were informed in advance that the pool would be closed until the mayor completed his dive for the cameras. A press conference preceding the dive was scheduled for noon.
But the mayor got hung up at a congressional hearing on funding for local homeland security. The hearing—which highlighted a shortfall in funds for D.C. and New York—certainly trumped the cannonball. Williams wasn’t about to leave his pal New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as they made a pitch for more security cash for two of the biggest terrorist targets.
The kids carrying towels started gathering in rec center lobby around noon. By 12:30 the grumbling began. When it was clear the mayor was running very late, some parents asked the center staff if the kids could jump in the pool and get out when the mayor arrived.
A police officer blew a whistle and ordered people in the lobby to make way for the mayor at around 1 p.m. As the time for the dive approached, about 20 kids who had been lined up as props for the mayor’s photo op filed in at about 1:30 to follow the mayor into the pool.
When LL left at 1:35, the children who had come just to splash in the pool with their friends and family were still patiently watching from the lobby.