By Judy Wakefield
---- — Summer and Pomps Pond go hand in hand — and the season for both arrives this weekend.
Considered the crown jewel of Andover’s outdoor recreational venues, Pomps Pond is set to welcome back visitors and begin offering a new season of activities for people of all ages.
The fun gets under way Friday night, June 21, with a Summer Solstice paddle. The 16-acre pond, part of a 62-acre recreation area, then officially opens Saturday, June 22, with the town’s Department of Community Services promising a full slate of activities through mid-August.
According to Recreation Director Kim Stamas, the town has heeded the requests of beachgoers in search of more shade. New, permanently installed tables and seats, complete with umbrellas, have been added to the shore.
“People have asked for these types of seats with umbrellas so we are happy to have them ... it’s a great shady place to picnic,” Stamas said.
The rustic-feeling shady hill at the pond that includes some barbecue grills also underwent a makeover. Stamas said town workers did a great job replacing logs and sprucing up the area.
Missing from the pond this year is Brian Parker, who has been a fixture at Pomps the past 17 summers. The popular pond coordinator and Andover High School social studies teacher is on medical leave after suffering a stroke.
“We are really going to miss him,” Stamas said. “He was the person who handled everything down at the pond every summer.”
Two longtime lifeguards who have worked at the pond for several years are filling Parker’s shoes. Caroline O’Malley and Paul D’Ambrosia are this summer’s co-coordinators and will start their jobs Saturday.
“They bring lots of experience as they have worked at Pomps for years,” Stamas said.
They’ll have a lot on their plate, as activities range from stand-up paddleboarding and canoeing/kayaking to freshwater fishing and volleyball.
For starters, the Shawsheen River Watershed Association is celebrating summer’s arrival and the Pomps Pond re-opening with a paddle Friday, June 21, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Boats and gear will be available while a campfire will be cooking s’mores. A live band will perform at the free event.
All summer, the town will be offering its popular Beach Buddies program, during which children can take swim lessons, along with enjoying boating, beach activities, arts and crafts, nature walks and weekly cookouts. The week-long sessions range in cost from $145 for half-day programs to $190 for longer days.
For those looking for a new activity at the pond, stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, is being offered by East Coast Style SUP. In addition, ages 7 to 12 can sign up for week-long morning paddleboarding instructional sessions, which cost $150 for a week. But hurry, as the second session is already full. Each session is limited to just 10 students.
Next Thursday, June 27, East Coast Style SUP is hosting a Launch Night, and will give 30-minute lessons for all ages, followed by a cook-out with s’mores.
The town also offers boat rentals, including sailboats, canoes, kayaks and paddleboats, for use on Pomps Pond.
The concession stand sells hamburgers, hotdogs, popcorn, chips, ice cream and other refreshments and is open daily from noon until one hour before closing.
In short, there’s no reason to hear children wandering around the house this summer saying, “There’s nothing to do” or “I’m bored.” Just send them to Pomps Pond.
“It’s going to be another great summer,” Stamas said.
What: Recreation area featuring swimming, boating, picnicking and more; boat rentals available
Where: Off Abbot Street
Hours: Noon to 7 p.m. daily, Saturday, June 22, through Aug. 18
Cost: $100 season pass, $60 for seniors; daily admission $5 weekdays, $10 weekends ($5 ages 13 and under); additional fees for boat rentals
Contact: Seasonal program coordinated by Andover Department of Community Services; call 978-623-8274 or pond at 978-749-9423 or visit www.andoverdcs.com/pompspond/info
SUMMER SOLSTICE PADDLE
What: Celebration of longest day of the year
When: Friday, June 21, 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Where: Pomps Pond Recreation Area, off Abbot Street
Attractions: Boats and gear for interested paddlers, live music, lawn games, campfire and s’mores. Bring snacks and beverages (no alcohol); beach will not be open and no swimming allowed
How: Free admission; presented by the Shawsheen River Watershed Association