MOUNT VERNON — On a beautiful spring day at Ariel-Foundation Park, parents and grandparents shared a new life lesson germane to the COVID-19 epidemic: Social distancing.
As they showed their children and grandchildren how to bait a hook and paddle a canoe, they also practiced a safe distance of at least six feet from other park visitors.
With movie theaters and other entertainment venues closed, parks and bike trails are one out of a narrowing field of destinations for family fun. The parks offer a chance to get out in nature, take a hike or go for a bike ride.
Though Ariel-Foundation Park is open, the restrooms are closed. People are not to use the pavilions under a city order aimed at preventing groups from congregating. Mount Vernon Police have always patrolled the park, but their duties now include watching for large groups, with orders to politely disperse them.
Mike Earnest was launching kayaks with his grandson, Blake Stiner, to do some fishing at the lakes. Earnest made sure there was plenty of distance between them and everyone else as they put the boats in.
Blake lamented the close of the movie theaters; he was planning on seeing the new James Bond movie on its original release date of April 2.
“Now I’m going to have to wait until November,” Blake said. “Here’s the thing; I was going to see it with someone but in November he’s going to be deployed (in the armed forces.)”
Greg Starkey brought his grandson, Colton, out to the park trails in a stroller, but let him walk part of the way.
“We’re not getting close to anyone though,” Starkey said.
Lisa Null took advantage of the day’s unseasonably warm weather to take her daughter, Kash, out fishing at the lakes. It was Kash’s first time out with her own rod and reel, and Null’s best friend’s son, PJ, came along to show her how to cast.
“I’ve been mostly staying at home, just going out for groceries,” Null said. “We’ve been here a few times, just for something different than the kids playing in the yard. (Kash) has been dying to fish.”
Bob Kaufman came up from Columbus to take a bike ride on the Kokosing Gap Trail. He is preparing to take a bike trip from Cleveland down to the Ohio River and wants to check out the lodging along the way. He took a breather at the CA & C depot and described the park scenery as “very beautiful.”
Even before the epidemic hit Ohio, Kaufman, who is 70, has been going out for bike rides of 30 to 60 miles a day regularly. He has continued to do so.
“It’s therapy,” Kaufman said. “I’m 70 and I have asthma. My wife does the shopping and this is how I get out. This is where I feel safe.”