Brightly colored Italian ice; red, white and blue decorations; kids splashing in the pool; and, most importantly, crowds of people together again after a long year of COVID-19 restrictions.
That was the scene at the JCC of Greater Baltimore’s July Fourth pool party for their members. The event took place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC Aquatics Park.
“It’s really like a true Independence Day, welcoming everybody back in,” said Lynne Kness, the director of member and guest services at the JCC of Greater Baltimore.
As they arrived, members were greeted with red, white and blue leis for them to wear, as well as the sounds of a DJ playing upbeat music.
There were competitions throughout the day for kids, such as a hula hoop contest, a limbo contest, a gone fishing game for toddlers, a rubber ducky game, a water balloon toss and corn hole.
The JCC also provided complimentary Italian ice from Kona Ice.
“This is a wonderful time of year, and it’s a great reminder to us about just celebrating freedom and celebrating diversity,” said Barak Hermann, CEO of the JCC of Greater Baltimore.
Different groups of people attended the party, which is reflective of the JCC’s diversity and community.
One attendee of the pool party, Faith Bane, is not Jewish, but her family belongs to the JCC, and she said that “folks have just been extremely welcoming.”
Her daughter attends preschool there, so they have met many families in the community. Bane enjoyed seeing all of the families and children she knew coming together and having a good time on the Fourth of July.
She attended the Fourth of July event two years ago, which she enjoyed, but it was very different from the pool party event the JCC had last year. People had to make reservations to attend and it was limited in capacity.
This year, there were no COVID-19 restrictions, a relief to many.
“It’s just really nice to be able to offer a happy day without masks [and] without restrictions,” Kness said. “I think that people are just … ready to be out here.”
However, it can be difficult to adjust to a large-scale event like this after the pandemic.
“It was definitely a little nerve-wracking at first, but everyone seems to be having a good time,” Bane said.
For some members, the festivities of the event did not matter as much as being able to hang out with their friends and tight-knit community.
Rocky Teitelman, a longtime member of the JCC, said that he and his friends would be at the pool whether there was an event or not.
“Some of us have known each other for 50 years, so we come to the pool all the time,” Teitelman said.
David Dessler, Teitelman’s friend and longtime member of the JCC, also loves the community and was glad that everyone was able to come together and celebrate at the event.
The JCC “feels like home,” Dessler said.