SUMMIT, NJ — There was Shamu, some large rings, rafts, rubber boats, a slice of watermelon and of course, Diddy, the shark mascot, at Summit’s Aquatic Center that’s celebrating 45 years of being a place like for the community to come together for a good time.
All of the various characters and crafts were on display at the center’s annual Best Float Night Ever on Aug. 16 as for an hour and a half residents were permitted to swim with their favorite float — including inflatable foods, animals and anything else imaginable.
“This is the one night that the residents can bring floats to the pool,” Director of Community Programs Judith Joseph told LocalSource. “This year we have an Under the Sea theme, and our mascot Diddy was dressed as King Neptune.
“We have a ‘How to Be a Mermaid’ class where our students can wear mermaid’s tails in the pool and learn to swim like one. We have some unusual programs here, all included in the membership.”
The pool’s annual popular shark art contest winners were awarded, with their work decorating the pool deck the following day.
“I envisioned this whole place with sharks hanging all around,” Josephs said. “The rock they’re surrounding has our logo on it, the exclamation mark, because we found that whenever we write about ourselves we always ended the sentence with an exclamation mark. Each family receive a shark and additional entries cost $5. We’ll hang them in here tomorrow and we’ll have Sharknado.”
The pool in Summit is the only one in the country to have shark statues inside, each dedicated to a municipal organization.
One of the winners took his inspiration from a television adored by children — and bemoaned by many
“I watch Sponge Bob Square Pants and that’s how I got my idea for Sponge Bob Shark Pants,” six-year-old Jack Doyle said. “I thought it would be funny. I won $25 in Summit Recreation money for the funniest shark. He’s holding a Krabby Patty that says ‘Sponge Bob Shark Pants.’ My aunt helped me draw it and I knew all the right colors. Unfortunately neither of us could draw the buck teeth, but I still won. It was still awesome.”
The pool is also unique in the fact the membership also includes yoga classes and tai chi.
“We have the ‘world’s largest swimming lesson with about 80 people in it,” Josephs said. “We do things different here and it’s a diverse place for everyone in the community to come together for fun.”