For years, police officers and park rangers turned a blind eye to almost everyone who made their way through the woods for a dip into Wissahickon Valley Park’s little secret, Devil’s Pool.
But too much hot weather and too much press, most notably a four-column photograph across the top of The New York Times last Wednesday, attracted too much attention to the watering hole off Wissahickon Creek this weekend. Large crowds forced city police to finally end swimming in the pool.
“We’re there policing to make sure people are not swimming. Everyone wants to dive into it like it’s Myrtle Beach,” said a 14th District officer. “This is not Atlantic City where you’re supposed to be diving and so forth. It’s not that type of party.”
Nowhere in the city’s Fairmount Park system is swimming actually allowed, according to Friends of the Wissahickon Executive Director Maura McCarthy.
“With all that press, then 100 degree temperatures, the officers felt they had no choice about enforcing the hard-nosed rules,” McCarthy said of complete closure of Devil’s Pool.
She recommended against swimming in the creek whether police enforce the park’s policy or not because this time of year, the creek water at Devil’s Pool is typically 90 percent recycled human wastewater.
“The stream is a lot healthier than 10 years ago, but still has a lot of challenges,” McCarthy said. “I wouldn’t want my dog swimming in there.”