Valley park goers allowed to enjoy parks under stay-at-home order

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — It’s the first official day of Indiana’s shelter-in-place order, but one area in the Valley was pretty vibrant with life.

Parks are considered essential, therefore an exception to the order so people can maintain health and exercise.

For Erik Hayes walking at Hawthorne Park with his wife and dog, Echo, is just a part of his routine.

However an adjustment to his routine will come Thursday. That will be Erik’s first day working from home amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“I actually think when we look back on this in 20 years that it could be a great American reset for families a lot of people back home playing board games, spending time with their kids,” Hayes said.

Erik works with mental health at Rose-Hulman and know how essential it can be to get outside.

“You’re surrounded by all the overwhelming kind of negativity of what’s going on, so I think getting out and being able to relax is important.”

Superintendent of Vigo County Parks, Adam Grossman agrees.

“Parks are essential and it’s a vital part of our community to have somewhere to go and to get your outdoor recreation exercise for your health and mental well-being,” Grossman said.

Though the entire park experience may be a bit different for now. Playground equipment, shelters and restrooms are all closed at the park. Grossman says park staff are also limited in their time at the park.

People are still welcome. They are asked to use social distancing and common sense.

“I saw a blue heron fly across and it was just nice and peaceful,” park goer Dani Reichert said.

Reichert was going to graduate from Indiana State this spring. She was student teaching when elementary schools first closed down. Next her graduation was canceled, but she says it’s nice to slow down and to still be able to go to parks and enjoy nature.

“It gives a sense of calm and it lets us take a moment and let us appreciate, like I put my phone in my bag and I’m like, I’m not looking at anything, I’m just going to go for a walk.”

Overall, it was an optimistic day at the park.

“You kind of get caught up in the rat race of basketball, the scouts, piano lesson and we kind of have to stay home right now and I think there’s potentially some long-term value, so I look at the silver lining of it,” Hayes said.

Park staff have also removed trash cans, so park goers are asked to pick up after themselves.

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