For the second consecutive summer, the fun at Morses Pond was somewhat reined in by restrictions put in place due to COVID-19. Between a lifeguard shortage, an events calendar that remained empty, and multiple days of rain, Summer 2021 at MOPO was a quieter than usual affair for the 6,000-plus visitors who booked their beach time.
The last official day of the Morses Pond season was August 15, but the yellow gate at the bottom of Turner Road will be open through September 6, 8am – dusk. The official closing of the pond means that there is no staff on hand, so no reservations are needed to use the beach area.
Not that there was much staff around all summer. When only one certified lifeguard had expressed interest in working at MOPO by early May, it became clear to Rec. that the pond would have to run on a swim-at-your-own risk basis. “We had 3 shifts of 5 Park Rangers again this summer. No lifeguards,” Rec. Department Associate Director Jenn Lawlor said in an email.
The lack of staff led to a Wellesley residents-only beach policy, and a reservations program was put into place. “The difference from last summer was that residents were able to make reservations for the full day, not just a time block. Restrooms were open this summer as well,” Lawlor said.
“Attendance has been a bit lower than last year,” Lawlor continued. “An estimated 6,215 patrons came through to Morses Pond from June 7 to July 31. Weather has also played a factor in low numbers, as some days we had to close due to storms.”
As usual, the Wellesley Health Department tested the swimming-area water for bacteria weekly, and the pond passed all the tests up until the week of August 2. “Due to all the rain we had a failing test result in which we had to close the pond for swimming on August 6th,” Lawlor said.
Usually Rec., in partnership with various town departments, keeps a steady stream of activities going such as Kid’s Trails Day, the Fishing Derby, Council on Aging Day, story times, the 8th graders’ party, a Family Camp-Out, and more. COVID put all of that on hold this year. A few hardy souls gathered at the pond in March for an unofficial version of the yearly Plunge for Elodie. And the Wellesley Fire and Rescue Department held a dive team training event in July. Other than that, visitors to the pond came to have a no-frills day at the beach.