COLUMBIA — Labor Day was only the second time this summer that Emily Daher and her children had been to the Oakland Family Aquatic Center.
Saturday she brought Andrew, 3, and Sophia, 1, to Pirates’ Landing, only to discover that the public aquatic center already closed for the season. So they went to Oakland instead and were pleased to discover it also has “fun things for little kids,” Daher said.
That includes ice cream, which Andrew said was one of his favorite things about the pool.
Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer — and the end of Columbia’s outdoor pool season. Except for Stephens Lake, which allows unguarded swimming through Sept. 30, Oakland was the only outdoor public aquatic center open through the holiday weekend.
Others came to enjoy one last day at Oakland, which offers a guarded 50-meter pool, a guarded children’s water play area and a spacious deck with lounge chairs. Single admission ranged from $2.25 to $3.50, depending on age.
Sam Brady sat in the concession area with his children Mariah, 11, and Jonah, 12, and his fiance, Heather Davis, and her son, Tyler, 8.
Brady said the family has enjoyed a busy summer, including trips to St. Louis and Six Flags, barbecues, sports, church and library visits. It also included about 50 trips to the Oakland pool.
Brady said he particularly enjoys the laid-back, family atmosphere that Oakland has to offer. The lifeguards are always focused and good with the kids, he said.
Carrie Mehrhoff used to take her children to Pirates’ Landing, but Kyra, 3, and Mackena, 6, didn’t really like the “floating algae” they noticed in the Twin Lakes Recreation Area’s 6.5-acre swimming lake.
“It kind of freaks them out,” Mehrhoff said.
Now they go to Oakland, Mehrhoff said, where the girls enjoy playing in the shallow end of the big pool and the wonders of chlorination.