By Michael Romain
Wednesday, Maywood — The weather forecasts called for stormy, ‘derecho’ conditions — branch-breaking gusts of wind, lightning, whip-lashing rain. There were droplets and overcast, the threat of a storm, but not much else. And so the grand opening ceremony for the Fred Hampton Aquatic Center went off without a hitch.
Guests included Fred Hampton’s mother and brother, Commissioner Bill Hampton; Mayor Edwenna Perkins; Trustees Toni Dorris, Ron Rivers, Michael Rogers and Melvin Lightford; Village clerk Viola Mims; West Cook YMCA President and CEO Jan Pate; West Cook YMCA board member Roberto Sepulveda; and Maywood Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Edwin Walker IV, among other civic leaders.
“I hope that each of you can advocate for this pool,” said Ms. Pate. “The more people advocate for this pool, the more successful it will be.” Mayor Perkins urged people to bring their family and friends. “It’s up to us to keep [this pool] looking like everybody wants,” said Mr. Hampton.
The ceremony marks the third year of the Village’s collaboration with the West Cook YMCA to manage and operate the pool. This year, residents can expect to benefit from more robust programming, such as swim lessons and morning lap swimming, and longer hours. Although today was the official grand opening, the pool has been open to residents since May 27.
Kim Polk, the West Cook YMCA’s Aquatic Director and the person responsible for managing the pool’s day-to-day operations, said that the response to the pool’s opening has been rather tepid in keeping with the un-summery weather. “Once the weather breaks, we’ll have good turnout,” she said.
The Fred Hampton Aquatic Center first opened in 1970, as a result of the efforts of its namesake, Fred Hampton, who was then a member of the youth NAACP. He would later go on to become the deputy chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party before his shooting death at the hands of Chicago police.
“Before this pool opened, blacks had to go to Cermak to swim,” Bill Hampton said. “This pool is the people’s pool — it’s what Fred would’ve wanted.” VFP
The Fred Hampton Family Aquatic Center will be open daily through Tuesday, September 3. Check the West Cook YMCA’s web site for hours or contact Kim Polk, Aquatic Director, at 708-434-0220.