The advent of various vaccines has put the Covid-19 pandemic in full retreat, and people are finally ready to live it up after a year-plus of sheltering. Local mainstays of summer fun are all too eager to welcome back patrons and join in on the air of celebration taking hold.
Pools are an emblem of summer’s arrival, and things have changed drastically for swimmers and sunbathers since last year, much to their delight.
“People are definitely enjoying it. They’re really happy,” Hayden Abbott, the assistant manager at High Point Pool, said. “We’re back at full capacity as far as staff so the guards are happy they’re getting more hours. Even our bosses are happier because they don’t have to go through all the hoops to set everything up. It was really stressful on the board last year to make sure everything was following regulations.”
Capacity restrictions at High Point followed Phases 1, 2 and 3 guidelines all last year, so it went from only allowing 25 people at the pool to 50 people to 25 families by the season’s end. That’s in the past this pool season, with there being no restrictions of any kind for its patrons.
While there was at least a semblance of normal pool activity in 2020, a lot of High Point’s special events had been canceled. That meant no July 4th celebration that visitors were used to nor was there a penny toss where younger swimmers go diving to collect “treasure” along the pool bottom. There also wasn’t the club-versus-club competition for the swim team, which merely competed amongst itself.
Remembering 2020 might stir up positive memories for Tuckahoe Recreation Club.
General Manager Rob Castorri said that it was a record year for the center financially because over 15,000 people visited the pool, which trumped the amount of visits they had in recent years. That even extended to the indoor pool season in the colder months, and tennis was another activity that saw record levels of interest that started throughout the past year, according to Castorri.
There were some casualties due to virus restrictions. Dive meets just came out of their two-year pause that was caused by Covid. The club’s own special events — which span from a crab feast to an Oktoberfest to socials and wine tastings for adults — were all called off over Covid concerns, but the ones for children such as a Halloween trick-or-treat event and visiting Santa Claus all saw record turnout.
Still, Castorri couldn’t compare it to the good times he’s seeing people post-pandemic.
“Everyone’s having a good time,” Castorri said. “If you talk with 10 people, three may describe it as a comparison to how drab it was last year. The other seven will just talk about how great it is to be back at the pool, how great the weather is and how good it is to see everyone out here.”
Gearing back up for the summer touring schedules has been quite the adjustment for Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.
Erick Hoffman, the park’s spokesman, said that Wolf Trap had prepared for a concert season with capacity restrictions and limited attendance in late April given the more sheepish timeline for reopening public health authorities were sticking by. The first in-person concert wasn’t supposed to take place until July 1 under the National Symphony Orchestra.
After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped the recommendation for social distancing, masking and crowds for those who’ve been fully vaccinated by mid-May, Hoffman said that the park has been racing to accommodate full capacity crowds and shows for its 50th anniversary season.
That begins with Wolf Trap’s Opera performing Bologne’s “The Anonymous Lover” on Friday and shows begin to happen more frequently starting the week after that. Headliners such as Harry Connick Jr. and Train will make their way to the stage in Vienna come August in a newly updated performance schedule.
“Everyone from the park to foundation is thrilled to have crowds coming back at full capacity for the summer,” Hoffman said, who added that artists have been eager to add a destination venue such as Wolf Trap to their tours as well.
Other recreation activities in the area that have picked back up include all the offerings at Upton Hill Regional Park.
Chris Pauley, NOVA Parks’ director of park operations, said that mini-golf, batting cages and the waterpark have all resumed normal operations at the park. The only difference is that the waterpark, which normally closes at 7 p.m., has been shortened an hour to 6 p.m.
Upton Hill will also be unveiling a new attraction at the end of the month, Climb UPton, a high ropes course with over 90 different elements on three different levels. It’s appropriate for visitors who are 49 inches and taller.