The pool opened in 1959, and has held a special place in the hearts of Queens residents for generations. And Forest Hills residents have a soft spot, too.
Located at 58-25 Little Neck Parkway in Little Neck, Deepdale Gardens Community Center Pool is among the largest of Queens pool clubs. It spans four city blocks, and besides taking a dip in the Olympic-sized adult pool or kiddie pool, members and guests can enjoy games such as bingo and mahjong, kids and teens activities, or recreational activities such as tennis, basketball, volleyball, badminton, and water aerobics.
Readers can select from a large variety of books by participating in the book club. A kiddie camp offers many activities, and even though the camp is geared towards children, it is part of the club’s mission to keep their parents occupied in a creative way, too. It is an encouraging feeling when you see a large quantity of patrons mingling and relaxing, without a crowd detracting from the club’s mission of tranquility.
Before or after basking in the sun or bathing in the pool, Saidy’s Café offers breakfast and lunch, consisting of a variety of delectable sandwiches, grilled specialties, salads, ice cream, frozen yogurt, and other desserts. It also offers dinner on Wednesday evenings.
Barbecues are generally held on weekends and holidays. Patrons can enjoy meals at umbrella-shaded picnic tables near a picturesque flower garden and trees along the perimeter. The backdrop is comprised of a high-rise of vegetation, contributing to the sentiment of a serene yet friendly ambiance.
Entertainment includes Saturday night stage shows and dancing under the stars, and the club offers extended hours on Wednesday evenings, consisting of music and food.
In addition to being a sports and entertainment complex, the club becomes a health advocate when it coordinates a fundraiser called the Ronald McDonald Swimathon. It also coordinates one of the largest blood drives in Queens each August in conjunction with the New York Hospital Center of Queens.
Within Forest Hills and Rego Park, some pools closed such as the Forest Hills Country Club and Lefrak City’s Rego Forest Country Club. Fewer remain today, and can be found at the West Side Tennis Club at 1 Tennis Place, Birchwood Towers at 102-10 66th Road, the Park City Swim Club at 98-00 62nd Drive, Fairview Pool at 61-20 Grand Central Parkway, and the Central Queens YM & YWHA at 67-09 108th Street.
Some Forest Hills residents have fond memories of the Forest Hills Country Club at 88-20 70th Road and Sybilla Street, but that was demolished in 2004 for housing. It offered a pool, a summer camp, and mahjong. In the late 1990s and into the early 2000s, on Friday and weekend evenings, and periodically on Monday evenings, it became less of a country club, but resembled more of an after-hours bar and disco until 4 a.m., which residential neighbors protested.
Thankfully, the Deepdale Gardens Community Center Pool offers the ambiance of a country-style retreat, is significantly larger, and more diverse than others. It is conveniently accessible by the Long Island Expressway and Grand Central Parkway. Minus traffic, it is often a 20-minute commute from Forest Hills.
Deepdale has a share of members from Forest Hills. Leslie Siegel and her family take pride in their membership of over 15 years, and commuting from Forest Hills. When asked what grants soul to such establishments, she captured its spirit well. She explained,
“The best part of the pool is the friendships that are made,” she said. “We pick up as if we never left; the same stories and same spots under the pagoda, for example. We celebrate weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, engagements, as well as our losses together.”
She emphasized how Saturday night entertainment is a great way to get together with friends and enjoy some of the singers, comedians, and other acts.
“Labor Day is bittersweet, as it is a final celebration of the summer,” she said. “We reserve our tables far in advance, so we know we have a place.”
Labor Day celebrations are indeed one of Deepdale’s many summer highlights, where numerous families and friends gather over food at long tables, and dance to the sounds of a live band, playing diverse genres. The members are left with an impression, and anticipate memories under the sun with friends old and new for the following season.
To learn more about the Deepdale Gardens Community Center Pool’s diverse amenities and festivities, call (718) 428-5050 or visit www.deepdalepool.com