Attendees cool off in the pool June 5, 2021, at Rehm Pool in Oak Park. | ALEX ROGALS/Staff Photographer

A “perfect storm” of independent coincidences and extreme heat left many Oak Park residents believing that the Park District of Oak Park had to close pools due to overcrowding this past week. Rumors swirled that overheated youths stormed the pool at Rehm Park. That did not happen.

That did, however, happen at the Forest Park pool last Tuesday evening. About 40 to 50 kids pushed past the pool’s front entrance and 60 youths scaled the pool fences, following a mass invitation circulated on Snap Chat to meet there, according to a statement from Forest Park Mayor Rory Hoskins.

While the two Oak Park pools did reach capacity each day of the heatwave, neither were closed. A relatively brief electrical outage that began late Wednesday at the main park district building on Madison Street seems to have caused Oak Parkers to confuse what happened in Forest Park as having occurred at Rehm pool.

“It was kind of like a perfect storm,” said PDOP spokesperson Ann Marie Buczek. “The pool was already at capacity; it was a really hot day, and then whatever happened at Forest Park probably got people confused.”

The main building’s loss of power temporarily prevented pool staff from being able to admit swimmers without pool passes late Wednesday. The internet connection for all park district facilities runs through its main building. The electricity outage caused the internet to drop across the park district, rendering pool staff unable to accept credit card and cash admission payments.

“We had no computer system and no way to run receipts,” said Buczek. “At that point, all we could do was check for passholders or pull passes electronically through people’s phones.”

Pool operations were mostly in full swing last Wednesday for the park district. The main building’s electricity was not lost until about 4:30 or 5 p.m. that evening. From 5:30 p.m. on, only pool pass holders could be admitted as electricity was not anticipated to come back until after 6:30 p.m. Rehm pool closes each night at 7 p.m.

The electricity has since been restored, so both pools have resumed acceptance of cash and credit card payments. The park district took to Twitter to spread the news, posting at noon, June 16 that both Rehm and Ridgeland Common pools were fully operational and functional.

For those worried of potential overcrowding in Oak Park, both pools have capacity counters. When the pools hit capacity, as they regularly do in times of excessively high temperatures, the counter monitors the situation by implementing a one-in-one-out policy.

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