Friday, August 10, 2001

Pools profit from heat

Higher temperatures bring higher attendance

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        “Look! A belly smacker!”

        Friends of Billy Mayers, 11, of Hamilton, issued a collective “ow!” as the freckled, sunburned lad fell belly forward into the cool, crowded waters of Sunlite Pool at Coney Island.

        The pool, which holds 3.5 million gallons of water and more than 10,000 swimmers, has been profiting from the recent rash of hot, sticky weather. Last week's heat attracted Sunlite's largest crowd since 1993.

[photo] Toby Farrell, 17, of the East End dives into Coney Island's Sunlite Pool Thursday.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
        Other pools and water parks also are hosting big crowds because of the heat, yet even Coney Island President Vic Nolting is thrilled that today's weather could bring some relief.

        “We've had some great weeks,” he said.

        “I think everybody would like to see a break here. Even if it's really good for business I'd like to see it get back to a ... normal weather pattern.”

        Thermometers today shouldn't surpass 84 degrees, marking a return to normal temperatures for this time of year, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

        Rain was expected this morning and should continue through the afternoon, loosening the choke hold that heat and humidity have had on the Tristate.

        On Thursday, those lolling in and around Sunlite Pool were looking forward to weather that promises to makes them breathe, work and play a little easier. They're tired of seeing their fingers prune and their skin burn because the heat drives them to stay in the Sunlite Pool waters longer than they should.

        “I hope it cools down, because then I wouldn't be coughing all the time,” said Billy, who has asthma. The heat and humidity has aggravated his breathing problems. Swimming cools him down but he's a little tired of putting on sunscreen — SPF 45 — every 45 minutes.

        Mary Ann Hansman, 44, of Cold Spring, Ky., and Amy Baldridge, 37, of Wilder, Ky., sat in the shallow waters while their children swam nearby. Since the pool opened Memorial Day, they have been visiting about twice a week.

        They spend the bulk of their pool days in the water. Then they escape to air-conditioned quarters. But they're tired of the routine and worried for their children, who recently began soccer practice.

        “I hope it cools down. The kids have to go back to school in a few weeks and there's no air conditioning,” Mrs. Hansman said.

        Other pools have profited from the heat. Cincinnati city pools are attracting 75 to 100 people a day. At this time of year, they normallydraw 50 to 75.

        The Beach Waterpark in Mason is averaging daily crowds of 3,300. Marketing Director Brooks Jordan said this summer's heat has pushed this year's attendance about 12 percent past last year's figure. “We have nothing to complain about. The weather is at a point right now where we have no complaints whatsoever,” he said.

        Meanwhile, back at Sunlite Pool, the Murphy family of Crescent Springs, Ky., lay on lounge chairs in the sun.

        The Murphy boys — Chris, 20, Joe, 17, and Kyle, 15 — admitted their skin is so pale because the weather and their video games keep them inside. But they are adapting to time outdoors.

        “It's not as bad as I thought it was going to be,” said Joe. “It's feeling good.”

        Their parents, Mike and Jean, are eager for more-normal temperatures so they can go back to relaxing and working in their yard.

        “We might actually mow the lawn and work out there,” Mr. Murphy said.


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