CitiParks closes out summer with back-to-school event at Sue Murray Pool
Photo: Kids run through piles of foam at a back-to-school event organized by CitiParks at Sue Murray Pool on Aug. 18. The city, alongside community organizers, provided many activities for the kids, including balloon animals and face-painting. Children also received school supplies to get ready for the coming school year. By Sean P. Ray
By Sean P. Ray | Managing Editor
With the coming of September, it’s back to school for kids and teenagers across the Northside as summer break comes to a close.
While perhaps a somber time for many kids, Pittsburgh government provided one last bit of summer fun for Northside children, while also giving them the opportunity to pick up some much needed school supplies.
CitiParks, Pittsburgh’s parks and recreation department, held a back to school celebration at Sue Murray Pool on Aug. 18, featuring games, balloon animals, face painting and a foam machine.
This is not the first back to school event CitiParks has held in Pittsburgh, but Kathryn Vargas, director of parks and recreation for the city, said it’s the first time one has been held in the Northside. The decision to hold the event at that location came out of discussions with community members after the city had initially kept the pool closed for many weeks at the start of the season.
“We were working with community partners on the opening of the Sue Murray Pool and one of the items was talking on what community members wanted to see” at the pool, Vargas said.
A back to school event was among the suggestions by members of the public, and the city was able to pull it together. In all, Vargas anticipated around 200 kids taking part in the activities offered at the pool.
The Northside iteration holds the honor of being the first of the city’s back to school events to feature foam sprayers. Vargas said the city first used the foam machines, provided by Foam Party Pittsburgh, during its CitiCamp program.
Many kids took advantage of the new attraction as did some city officials. Mayor Ed Gainey and City Councilman Bobby Wilson visited the pool for the event and took the time to take photos in the foam spray.
Debbie Reed, of the California-Kirkbride Neighbors community organization, said it was good to see the city pay attention to the area through the event.
“It feels great to have the city really participate,” Reed said.
California-Kirkbride Neighbors even pitched in on the fun side of the event. The group brought an inflatable basketball court down for the event. In addition to the fun activities, school supplies were handed out to attending children during the event.
Some examples included books, pencil cases, book bags, among many other things kids will be needing during the 2022-23 school year.
“The children win books and prizes,” said Nancy Burns, a program supervisor with CitiParks, who is also a Northside native. “Everyone is a winner today.”