As playgrounds close, Tallahassee parents work to keep kids active

By: Jacob Murphey | WCTV Eyewitness News
March 23, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – Another round of closures is forcing parents to get creative to keep kids active.

New guidelines issued by the City of Tallahassee Parks and Recreation Department Monday closed playgrounds, park shelters and dog parks.

Parks and Recreation Director Ashley Edwards said the move came after the city noticed too many people ignoring public health recommendations.

"We're still seeing people not keeping the social distancing requirements," she said. "They are gathering in groups of people. It's so important for the health of our community that we want to discourage people from gathering."

Meanwhile, parents faced the first week without school following Spring Break. Carmen Hargrett spent Monday afternoon at Cascades Park with her two kids, trying to adjust to a new normal.

"Trying to do home school for them, trying to get them out in the sun playing, exercise and stuff, that's the best way I can do it. And still working full time," she said.

Hargrett hadn't heard about the newest closures, and said she'd prefer the playgrounds stay open.

"That makes no sense," she said. "You'd think the city would want the kids to get out and play."

Edwards said the city does want kids to get outdoor time, but playgrounds are becoming too dangerous.

"We're so concerned because you're touching surfaces other people have touched and it's one of the primary ways the virus spreads," Edwards said.

While playgrounds,basketball courts, picnic shelters, and dog parks are closed, athletic fields and tennis courts remain open for small groups.

Joe Jesiolkiewic lives in St. Petersburg but is in Tallahassee to spend time with his grandsons. They played catch at a baseball field in Winthrop Park.

"We would be together anyway," he said. "We're trying to be in line with what they're asking."

Parents versus a pandemic, trying to navigate an uncertain future and keep order.

"I don't want them to break each other's heads at home too," Hargrett said. "I need them to get away from each other."