For FLORIDA TODAY
Savvy parents know that pools, whether yours, a neighbor’s or a community affair, can be life and sanity savers during the long, hot and school-free summer.
With eight youngsters ranging in age from 18 months to 17 years, Wendy Perrone heads to mom-in-law Cindy’s Cocoa pool almost every summer weekend.
“We pack up and cook out,” the Merritt Island resident said. “It’s nice that the older kids play with the younger ones.”
Cindy Perrone’s 10 grandchildren are frequent swimmers in her pool.
“There’s always a kid in the pool,” she said. “They say that the family that plays together, stays together, and that’s true.”
If, unlike the Perrones, you’re not fortunate enough to have a grandmother with pool, you still can keep the brood happy and cool at community pools such as the Community Swimming Pool at the Cocoa Beach Country Club and the Palm Bay Aquatic Center, which are open to everyone in the county.
At Cocoa Beach, families appreciate the 321-foot Olympic-size pool and the fenced-in kiddie complex with 45-foot gently sloping shallow pool and a splash park with all the fun bells and whistles. The pool depends on a geothermal cooling/heating system for perfect water temperatures year round.
Like the Cocoa Beach pool, the Palm Bay Aquatic Center is a magnet for families who want to get wet without having to deal with the mess of beach sand and the vagaries of ocean currents at the shore.
The little ones and their parents love the zero-entry pool with water play toys and slide.
Brevard Zoo offers another cool, watery option in its Paws On play area, where families can enjoy water play in the Indian River Play Lagoon, where kids can splash around right next to a 20,000-gallon aquarium brimming with watery denizens of the Indian River Lagoon.
Those ages 3 and younger are VIPs at Toddler Flats with its bubbling manatee. For children 4 and older, there’s a dump tank, mangrove forest and spoil island. Seaside Cove and Sea Turtle Beach are there, too, so kids can explore “beachside” on a tiny shrimp boat, go hook-less fishing and pretend to be a nesting sea turtle.