By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — The city plans to blast away the heat — literally.
A water cannon will begin blasting cool showers on people this afternoon at Riverside Park behind Trinity Stadium.
The Recreation Department will use the cannon to shoot water on park visitors from 3 to 6 p.m. today, tomorrow and Friday, said Vincent Ouellette, the city’s human services director.
Ouellette said the cannon is typically used for watering park lawns, but it can also be used for entertainment, including providing cool, showering water during a heat wave like this week’s. He said it shoots water 300 feet into the air and that the resulting shower is heavy enough to drench people.
“Kids love it and usually come down in their bathing suits to cool off,” Ouellette said.
As temperatures continue to hover in the 90s, residents can also cool off the old-fashioned way by taking a dip in Plug Pond, Haverhill’s only public beach, located off Mill Street.
The pond has had capacity crowds this week, but people come and go regularly, resulting in average waits of only 15 minutes or so to enter the beach area, Ouellette said. The beach is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Lifeguards are on duty.
Visitors can have a picnic or cookout at the beach.
The pond’s water is tested weekly and the latest test showed that it met or exceeded standards set by the city’s Board of Health, Ouellette said.
For residents who have no air conditioning or suitable fans at home, the city has opened the Citizens Center for extended hours. Mayor James Fiorentini said the center on Welcome Street will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today through Friday, when the heat wave is expected to end.
“If people are in need of additional hours or to stay overnight, let us know and we’ll make arrangements to open as an overnight shelter,” Ouellette said. “And if it’s after 8 p.m., contact police and they will contact me to open up.”
People who are planning to stay at the Citizens Center for an extended period of time and have medications they need to take are asked to bring them along.
“We have a secured refrigerator for medication that needs to be refrigerated, such as insulin,” Ouellette said. “Also bring a blanket and pillow if you plan on spending the night.”
More information is available by calling Ouellette at 978-374-2388, ext. 28.
Beating the heat
Water cannon at Riverside Park: Today through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m.
Swimming at Plug Pond: Daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Air-conditioned Citizens Center: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today through Friday, overnight hours available