The Beach is open for businessThe Beach is open for business Saturday -- weather permitting. Brace yourselves for an invigorating swim experience to start the season.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Cloquet’s swimming pond offers the perfect blend of lake and swimming pool. There’s sand, but no noisy boats. The water doesn’t sting your eyes (too much) and there are no fish or icky weeds and mud grabbing at your feet. And, best of all, there are concessions and trained lifeguards on hand helping watch over the swimmers.
The Beach is open for business Saturday -- weather permitting. Brace yourselves for an invigorating swim experience to start the season.
“I’m betting on 80 degrees and sunny Saturday,” said an optimistic Ruth Reeves, director of Cloquet Community Education, which manages the swimming pond for the city.
Reeves said family pass sales began just after Christmas.
Committed swimmers have until 7 p.m. Friday to purchase a summer pass at the reduced price -- $39 for an individual pass, $69 for a family pass, and $109 for the licensed childcare pass -- then prices go up $10 on opening day.
Reeves said the Community Education office at Cloquet Middle School will be open late Thursday and Friday to accommodate people who want to get a discounted pass so there’s not such a big line [at the facility] the first day.
New this year is a climbing wall for younger kids and a shade structure donated by the American Dermatological Association.
There will also be a number of new faces on patrol. Reeves said Jon Horbacz is taking over as manager -- the previous manager is having a baby -- and a number of new lifeguards.
“We had a core group of lifeguards move on,” Reeves said. “They keep growing up and moving on.”
Although The Beach has struggled with attendance since a 6-year-old boy drowned there in 2011 -- the only drowning at the sand-bottomed pond since it was constructed in 1976 -- Reeves is optimistic people who quit coming due to a double whammy of worry and stricter policies implemented immediately after the drowning will come back.
The Beach rules include the following:
• Children 6 years old and younger need to be supervised by an adult who is in the water with them.
• Children 10 years old and older can come alone.
• Children under the age of 10 need to be accompanied by an adult – or childcare provider who is at least 16 years old. Nine-year-olds who have passed the Level 4 swim lessons and can show proof with a card OR who pass a swim test given by lifeguards at The Beach and get signed permission from their parents are the exception.
• A babysitter/childcare provider must be at least 16 years old to supervise children under age 12.
• Only U.S. Coast Guard approved flotation devices may be worn in the water. There are lifejackets available for rent. Sizes: infant, 0-30 lbs., Child 30-50 lbs., and youth 50-90 lbs. Cost is $1 for rental and available at the concession stand. No water wings are allowed.
“I’d say by the end of last summer, everyone knew the rules and respected them,” said supervisor Kayla Cresap. “Really, what it means is a safer experience for everyone and a more enjoyable time.”
The swimming pond closed in 2005 due to substantial deterioration. After a battle with the state which resulted in new legislation, the city was authorized to make repairs. The swimming pond reopened in 2009 after a $1.5 million renovation project. It is one of 12 swimming ponds in the state of Minnesota.