Nashoba Publishing/Julia KacmarekVeteran Sandy Pond beach staff, from left, JJ Thomas, Heidi Januskiewicz, Andrea Norton, Madison Bump and Elena
Nashoba Publishing/Julia Kacmarek Veteran Sandy Pond beach staff, from left, JJ Thomas, Heidi Januskiewicz, Andrea Norton, Madison Bump and Elena Ream-Rodriguez.

AYER -- As the summer comes to an end, the Park and Recreation team at Sandy Pond Beach have worked to create fun, safe and inexpensive activities for Ayer residents.

With the beach closing on Labor day, the Park and Rec staff found that this summer was busier than most and Jeff Thomas, supervisor of Recreation and Maintenance, thinks the hot weather may have had something to do with it.

"It's a product of the weather and our lifeguard and maintenance crew," Thomas said.

The maintenance crew worked to preserve and maintain the landscaping and the Nashoba Board of Health tested the water weekly to ensure its cleanliness. The water continuously tested cleaner than it did years before.

In an effort to express his gratitude, on Aug. 23, Thomas awarded veteran Park and Rec employees with monogrammed sweatshirts.

"This is something that the Parks Commission wanted to do in light of the excellent service they have given to our beach, " Thomas said.

Lifeguards Madison Bump, Elena Ream-Rodriguez and Andrea Norton, and maintenance worker, JJ Thomas, have all provided their time and skills to Sandy Pond Beach for over seven years, along with waterfront director Heidi Januskiewicz.

"They've done their jobs and they have literally saved lives down there," Thomas said as he handed out the shirts.

With the busy summer behind them, the staff spoke about the accomplishments summer programs saw this year. This summer, Park and Rec had a breakthrough with the "Mommy and Me" classes, adding an entirely new group to the roster. The Mommy and Me classes enrolled nearly 100 children and their mothers this summer.

"Mommy and Me started about three or four years ago, and we only had a handful of people. This year, it doubled over last summer," Januskiewicz said.

Other summer programs included free-to-residents youth softball and baseball programs and an inexpensive basketball camp and clinic. In exchange for the use of Ayer's Pirone Park, the New England Blizzard softball team funded youth softball this summer. Youth baseball was made possible by volunteers from Ayer Youth Baseball and Softball, or AYBS.

The soccer camp partnered with Challenger Sports, which allows children from abroad to travel from town to town playing soccer in the U.S.

"The kids and parents both love getting a chance to meet and play with kids from another country," said Sarah Gibbons, of the Ayer Youth Soccer Committee.

Gibbons is accepting registration for children ages two and up for the soccer program until Sept. 14.

"Little Kickers is the two to four group and is an introduction level, and as they move up, they begin to learn drills and procedures," Gibbons said.

If interested in fall sports, please contact the Recreation office at 978-772-8217.

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