McCarren Mania


The McCarren Park Pool unveiled to the public this morning was a far cry from the dilapidated space Williamsburgers have known for the past 28 years.  What has long been  littered with glass bottles and peeling paint is now a smooth, clean swimming mecca that is safe and family-friendly.

Perhaps for that reason, parents and kids were front-and-center at the opening ceremony.  The young hipster crowd will surely trickle in as the summer goes on, but today there was a mix of folks on-hand to hear Mayor Bloomberg refer to the new facility as “MacLaren Park.”  (Twice!  Maybe he’s been watching too much “How I Met Your Mother?”)  Young families and old-timers alike were excited to see what has become of the long-neglected swimming hole.

“Honestly, I was just expecting a small little pool,” said Michael Mertyris, 45, a butcher who has lived in the area all his life.  “But this place is gorgeous.”

We wonder if fashion-conscious Williamsburgers will echo the mayor’s confusion and Mertyris’ surprise when it comes to dealing with the pool’s myriad of strict rules this summer.  Among the more crippling ones, in our estimation, is the rule that only white t-shirts can be worn on the pool deck, and zero electronics are allowed.

Lauren Belomy, 26, lives just around the corner from the park.  She laughed when we gave her a rundown of the pool rules, warning her against sneakers, colorful t-shirts and her iPhone.

“I mean come on,” she said, shaking her head.  “I’d be surprised if anyone even knows about the rules.  And if they do, I’m sure they’ll get creative.”

Photos by Julie Strickland, music by The Grand Street Stompers (recorded live at the opening ceremony).

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