From their front yard, where the blue blow-up whale sits, Becky Woods and Billy Ewing gaze at the pool at Mary Gibbard Park with the smiles of relieved parents.
On Saturday, the pool opens for the summer, and their 11- and 12-year-old sons will race a few houses down to go splash.
"My kids will spend the entire summer there and not in my hair," Woods said.
"Then they can come home and take a nap," Ewing said.
The city's parks department hopes enough families make the same choice, especially with the spiffed-up look and special events the staff is using to draw more swimmers to Gibbard. It's a trial run and could be the pool's shot at staying open in future summers.
The festivities begin with a reopening bash from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the pool, 1024 Somerset Ave., just south of Milburn Avenue. Swim instructors will be in the pool to demonstrate some basic water safety lessons. Photo IDs also will be sold.
This small pool on the city's southwest side was closed last summer, a decision by the city parks board, which intended to replace it with a splash pad since attendance had kept dwindling over the years.
But then city council members and neighbors raised enough of a fuss that Mayor Dave Wood asked the parks board to open it for one more summer.
Saturday marks the summer opening for both the pool at Gibbard (80,000 gallons) and the much larger, 50-meter pool (nearly 1 million gallons) at Merrifield Park.
There will be new events only offered at Gibbard. For example, there will be swims nights just for families from 6 to 9 p.m. on Sundays and Wednesdays.
And the Gibbard pool will be available for rent from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays and Wednesdays -- handy for birthday and graduation parties, said Joe Van Nevel, who manages the city's pools and ice rink. Cost is $45 for the first hour and $30 for each additional hour. That includes two lifeguards and a supervisor on duty.
Special events will be planned for the Gibbard pool through the summer -- yet to be announced, said Carmen Carpenter, assistant parks superintendent.
Also, the city replaced all of the plumbing on the water slide and, to meet a federal requirement, installed a new suction cup in the pool that's supposed to keep fingers and hair from getting stuck -- all at a cost of about $7,000, Van Nevel said.
New furniture and umbrellas are next to the freshly painted pool, too, he said.
The city put the word out about the pool reopening in the newsletter that comes with Mishawaka utility bills, along with letters that went home with students at nearby LaSalle Elementary School.
Staff writer Joseph Dits: