As temperatures in the region took a dive over the past few days, so too did the attendance at local pools and other water recreation parks.
This is not an uncommon summer trend, local pool managers said, but the recent chills have made for some pretty bleak swimming weather. Morning temperatures dipped below 50 degrees, according to reports from the National Weather Service, and the high stayed below 70 degrees on some days.
Mark Venurato, pool manager for the Prospect Park Pool, said on Tuesday the pool only had four visitors to its $2 Tuesday promotion, when usually they can "count on 204."
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Paul Keen of Coconut Creek, Fla., and his grandson, Kirk Keen, 4, of Bellwood have the kiddie pool to themselves at the Bellwood-Antis Community Pool Thursday.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Prospect Pool lifeguard Craig McCloskey, 21, of Altoona looks over a nearly empty pool.
He said the pool will remain open if there are at least 15 swimmers, but it's been a struggle to get that many visitors in the cloudy weather.
"We're thousands of dollars in the hole, easy," Venurato said. "This weather is just killing us this year."
Feeling the chill
According to National Weather Service data, much of the past week has been overcast or cloudy. Thunderstorms rolled in the area last Sunday, and early in the week it was rare to see temperatures climbing above 75 degrees.
On Tuesday afternoon, the air temperature was only about 63 degrees, according to the NWS.
Andy St. John, the park manager at Canoe Creek State Park, said that when the air temperature drops, so does the lake's water temperature, which drives away would-be swimmers.
St. John said that park officials did a "quick and dirty" study of park attendance so far this summer, and though overall attendance hasn't diminished by much, the amount of people swimming has.
"The numbers seem to be holding pretty steady for total visitation," he said. "What's changing is what they're doing. There's less people on the beach and a lot less in the water."
The lake's temperature peaked at about 77 degrees several weeks ago, St. John said, which is ideal for swimming. However, the past few weeks have seen the water temperature drop to about 70 degrees, which people tend to find uncomfortable, he said.
Even when visitors have been coming to the beach, they've been staying out of the water recently for the most part, St. John said.
"This year so far has been atypical," he said. "Typically, you're going to see a couple hundred people, with 100 or so people in the water. You can count the same number of people in the beach area now, but you might see only five, 10, 15 people in the water, mostly the kids."
Venturato said that, while temperature is one offender in keeping people away, the clouds are also playing a role. He said the temperature could be warm, but if it's overcast, residents will still avoid the pool.
"It could be 110 degrees, but if it's cloudy out, people don't come," Venturato said. "I don't think we've had four days in a row of sunshine."
He said the pool is "fighting" to get enough people to stay open on cloudy days.
"We opened up last Saturday (July 26) and didn't have one person," he said.
Justin Brown, the director of aquatics at DelGrosso's Amusement Park, said that though the weather is "certainly a factor," it hasn't had such a strong impact on overall attendance at the park.
"I think it really has not affected our business, so to speak, in an overall perspective," Brown said.
He said people tend to come out in full force on nice days, which often will negate the poorer days when the season is examined as a whole. He said the park can almost always bounce back.
Randy Colyer, the owner of Greenwood Pools, said sales are very "weather-oriented." When the "cold weather comes, the business slows down," he said.
"The current store traffic is a little on the slower side, mainly because of the weather," Colyer said. "We can tell when the store traffic's down because it's cold and rainy."
The cooler weather does help sell certain products, though, he said, like pool covers and heaters to help maintain a comfortable water temperature.
Greenwood Pools tends to see fewer people, anyway, as the summer winds down and people move on to other concerns, Colyer said.
"People get anxious this time of year, also, with vacations and getting ready for school," he said, "and it translates into less business here."
Lakemont Park Manager Bob Larson said that this summer is not unlike last year, which also had weather that was less than ideal for amusement parks and water parks like Lakemont.
"Last summer wasn't an ideal summer, so I was kind of hoping we were due for a nice one," Larson said. "But this year is just as bad, if not worse, as last year."
Larson said he did not have attendance numbers on hand, but that poor weather is always going to affect attendance at both the main amusement park and the attached Island Waterpark.
Unfortunately, though, there's little to be done about Mother Nature, he said.
"It's disappointing," he said, "but there's really nothing you can do about it."
St. John said that, despite the fact that fewer people have been swimming this summer, there have been plenty of visitors to hike or host picnics.
He said if the temperature increases for a few days, the lake will heat up again, which will be more inviting to beachgoers.
"I'm glad folks are still coming to the park to do their picnics and do their recreating," he said, "but it's probably going to take a couple days of good hot weather to rebound (at the beach)."
Brown echoed those sentiments, saying a "pent-up energy" will typically draw crowds back to DelGrosso's.
He urged potential visitors to take a chance on a middling weather forecast, as those days often turn out to be nice.
"I think that we see that, especially this summer, our numbers are really, on an average basis, only up," Brown said.
At Prospect, those working at the pool have to debate if the attendance is worth the cost of opening at all, Venturato said. When a small number of people attend, their admission won't cover the costs of labor and the costs to run the pool.
"It's just bad for the pool business," he said.
Mirror Staff Writer Paige Minemyer is at 946-7535.