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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Swimming in dumpsters might sound like the punchline from a joke on the depths to which pitiable New Yorkers sink in the dog days of August. But that's precisely what hundreds did on Saturday.
As part of the city's Summer Streets program, in which large swaths of bustling thoroughfares are closed to vehicular traffic on Saturdays in August, three dumpsters -- essentially large garbage bins -- converted for use as swimming pools are gracing Park Avenue.
New Yorkers and tourists lined up early for access to one of three sessions in the 8-foot by 22-foot dumpster pools, each providing 140 people with 20 minutes of pool time as well as use of cabanas, outdoor showers, hammocks and lounge chairs.
"It's a fun, great New York experience," retiree Frances Parkman, who lives nearby and stopped by for a look but didn't take the plunge.
"It's just wonderful, and it costs nothing," she added.
But swimsuit-clad tourist Austin Weaver, 11, from Cleveland, Ohio, stared glumly after his mother learned that all 420 swimming passes had been snapped up by 9 a.m.
"We checked online after we saw it on the news," his mother, Kimberlie Weaver, said of the highly publicized event. "But there were no details besides the start and end time."
The pools, which are lined with plastic and surrounded by a deck, will be open for two more Saturdays in this stretch of Park Avenue lined with office towers and in the shadow of commuter railroad hub Grand Central Terminal.
People lounged in hammocks text messaging, while others kicked back in lounge chairs reading newspapers. A trio of young men sported masks, snorkels and fins.
Some local merchants were underwhelmed, saying an expected uptick in customer traffic attracted by the pools never materialized.
Last summer the pools graced a gritty, industrial lot in Brooklyn and became an instant hit.
Editing by Eric Beech