By Mike Lauterborn
(for Westport News)
Westport, CT – Happy squeals of kids splashing around in a pool, the drifting smell of burgers and hot dogs on a grill, and the thunk of arrows hitting a target. It was Summer Sunday once again at Mahackeno Outdoor Center and area families were taking full advantage, making the best of a sticky, humid afternoon.
This was the third Sunday of July the event had been scheduled and there would be just one more for the summer – July 31 – in a first-time program hosted by the Westport/Weston Family Y at the 37 Rices Lane facility. Families could engage in a wide range of activities including archery, horseshoes, canoeing, a playground, basketball and swimming, as well as enjoy a barbecue lunch. These Sunday events are free for Westport/Weston Y members and just $20 per family for non-members.
“The pool has always been open during the summer for members only, but just the pool,” explained Shelley Moll, Health & Wellness Director for the Y. “Now we have opened up more of the facilities for everyone’s usage.”
Enjoying the pool with her family in tow, Fairfielder Melissa Flanary said her son Sean, 7, goes to camp at Mahackeno and really wanted to show everyone what the facilities were like. “Today was a good opportunity to do that,” she said.
Melissa’s husband Mike was especially grateful to be in the pool, noting, “I was one of the unlucky commuters on the train Friday that broke down between Westport and Green’s Farms, five minutes from my stop. I was stuck on the train for an hour and a half and another hour waiting at the station for another train to take us out. It was torture, essentially being stuck in a metal box in the sun.”
Amanda Beall of Fairfield, whose daughter Lilly Chin is a Mahackeno summer camper as well, was loving the pool, too. “We don’t have other access to an outdoor pool,” she said. “It’s been so hot that this is a great way to cool off. It was this or the movie theater. This won out as it got started earlier and we can take greater advantage of the day.”
Scott Smith, the Y’s Communications Director, said the pool had become the more popular activity of all those offered because of the lasting heat spell. “The first couple of Summer Sundays, our archery, climbing wall and canoe station were mobbed with people as the temps were cooler and because the activities are not common to most people’s experience,” he said. “Now we’ve got this humid weather and everyone wants to stay in the pool. This is the only shaded public pool in town, so it’s a popular destination.”
Watching her son, Evan, 8, shoot arrows into a target in the Center’s archery area, Robyn Defonce of Fairfield remarked, “We did this last weekend and the kids had so much fun that we decided to come again. Twenty dollars is a great value for lunch, swimming and all the activities.”
Playing basketball with his six-year-old son Kyle, another Mahackeno summer camper, Weston resident Kevin Barry said, “We thought we’d enjoy the facilities together on a hot summer afternoon.”
Stepping from the pool to the grill, Jeannette Buchanan of Stamford, who was joined by her husband Jim and daughter Kianna, 9, said their friends had invited them along. “What a great way to spend time as a family – a family day in the woods.”