A group plays Pickleball at the Water Tower tennis courts. (Photo by Kevin Dicciani)

A group plays Pickleball at the Water Tower tennis courts. (Photo by Kevin Dicciani)

The Northwest Pickelball Meetup Group will host an open house at Water Tower Recreation Center to mark the 50th anniversary of the birth of the sport of pickleball. The event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m, at the Water Tower Recreation Center, 209 E. Hartwell Lane.

There are close to 500 members in the Northwest Pickleball Meetup Group, managed by Dan Wheeler, racquet sports aficionado and longtime employee of the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation. Wheeler will be retiring from the City of Philadelphia in September 2015.

The day’s events will feature open play on 10 courts, instructional clinics for newcomers to the sport, music by the DJ group Steve and Company, and refreshments. All equipment will be provided for beginners.

Members of the Northwest Pickleball Meetup Group are advocates of Water Tower Recreation Center as a future home of dedicated pickleball courts. This special event will further introduce the surrounding community to the history, the sport and the recreation center as a community resource.

Pickleball, sometimes described as a combination of tennis and ping-pong on a doubles badminton court with a lowered net, came to Northwest Philadelphia in October 2010 at the Pleasant Playground in East Mount Airy before moving to the Water Tower in September 2012.

First played in the summer of 1965 at the summer home of a U.S. Congressman on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, pickleball originated as a family pastime. Played mostly on private courts and in physical education classes in the Seattle, Wash., area, news of the sport spread largely by word of mouth.

In the last 10 years, the popularity of the sport has been fueled by enthusiastic seniors, especially in active adult 55+ communities and thoughtful promotion by its governing body, the USAPA, which reorganized in 2005. Learn more about the sport at www.usapa.org.

This event is free and open to the public.

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