WILLIAMSBURG— As the sun shone above them, hundreds sweltered in line Saturday to take a dip in the cool aqua waters of the McCarren Park Pool, after it was abruptly shut early Friday following a fight.
The pool closed shortly after 6:15 p.m. Friday after an unruly crowd reportedly attacked several lifeguards, a Parks Department spokeswoman said. The fight broke out when teenagers were stopped from doing backflips, New York Magazine reported, and the teens turned on lifeguards that were trying to halt them.
Saturday the doors were reopened, and crowds didn't wait for an invitation to take advantage of the massive oasis, which opened for the first time on Thursday since it was shuttered back in 1983.
Despite Friday's incident, security for the recreation area was under control, said Parks Department spokeswoman Vickie Karp. "Lifeguards and security are always on hand at all 55 outdoor pools, and doing a great job," she said.
A line of people stretched down Lorimer Street alongside McCarren Park, and around the corner to Bayard Street, while the chirping of lifeguard whistles and sounds of splashing water and laughter drifted over the tall red-brick walls that enclose the pool.
Dressed in bathing suits and clutching tote bags and towels, hopeful pool-goers said they couldn't wait to escape the 90-degree temperatures in the promising new facility.
Rosemary Rivera, of Queens, said she remembered coming to McCarren Pool as a child.
"Back then, the pool was open before school was out. We would come after school with our friends," she said. Rivera came returned for the first time in decades on Saturday, accompanied by her daughter and several nieces and nephews. "I really want to see how it is and how it transformed from 30 years ago."
Despite its length, the line moved quickly. Paul McName, 44, of Queens said it only took about 25 minutes to reach the pool gates, though in the heat, he said "it feels like years."
Things slowed down at 1 p.m. when a parks employee announced that the pool had hit maximum capacity. New swimmers were allowed in only as others left.
The pool area can hold 1500 people at a time and is open in two shifts, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., with an hour of pool cleaning time in-between, according to the Parks Department.
The announcement was a big dissapointment to Tiff W. and Holly I., who with three kids in tow and half-way down the line, feared they would not get in before the 3:00 close time. Neither wanted her last name used. "It's a thousand degrees and we're not happy," said Tiff. "We'll wait a little bit and see what happens."
For those lucky enough to get a chance to cool off in the water, the new pool got mixed reviews.
"It was strict," said 19-year-old Carlos Contreras, who had hoped there would be a diving board and more chance for adventure. "It is a good pool, but it should be deeper," he added.
Others were thrilled, though. "It's just so fresh and happy and inviting," said Russell Steinhert who has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years. "It was a surprise because we had been by here when it was abandoned."
The pool will be open from everyday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. until Labor Day. Entry is free of charge.