The Sedalia Parks and Recreation Department has canceled many activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic but it is still working on ways to serve Sedalia and surrounding communities.
“All of our classes are canceled which we hate because our philosophy and the reason we work is to improve the quality of life of others,” Parks and Recreation Director Amy Epple said. “Right now we’re having to tell people, ‘Stay away so that we make sure we are helping their quality of life.’ That is hard for us but we’re hoping that this passes quickly and that we can get back to doing things.”
Convention Hall is closed to the public although staff is still there working and following the same guidelines as staff at the Sedalia Municipal Building. Citizens can still call to register for summer programs.
Epple wanted to emphasize all parks are still open although people should take precautions.
“We are having to clean everything and we are shutting down bathrooms for the safety of everyone,” she said. “We’re also stressing too that being on playgrounds, from what we’ve been reading, is not a good idea either. So we’re recommending people stay off the playgrounds but we still want you to be able to take a breath at the park, shoot some hoops but still keep your 6 feet distance and no gatherings of 10 or more.”
While many activities have been canceled, the department is working to reschedule them. The Autism Awareness Fair and 5K have been rescheduled for Sept. 5. The Mismatched 5K and vaccination clinic are postponed for later in the year. Epple also said while the Easter egg hunt was canceled, staff is looking at having one in August. There are activities like pickleball that have to be canceled and cannot be rescheduled.
While the department cannot host its normal activities at its facilities, staff is still working hard to come up with fun, interactive activities for individuals to participate at home.
“We’re just trying to come up with some daily activities for people to do at home so that they can keep a little recreation in their life and hopefully make the best of what is going on,” Epple explained. “It’s been an effort, not just from our staff, but even from local people in the community and surrounding communities emailing us and saying, ‘Hey this would be a really good idea.’”
On Tuesday, the department hosted a Mario Kart 8 Virtual Tournament where individuals with access to a Nintendo Switch, Mario Kart 8 and an online membership could log on and play against other participants.
Certain activities encourage getting outside like the “Chalk your Walk” activity where individuals are encouraged to draw inspiring art or write encouraging messages on their driveways or sidewalks with chalk. Individuals are also encouraged to walk or drive around their neighborhoods to look for the artwork. Another is the “Bear Hunt” activity where individuals are encouraged to place teddy bears in their windows. This goes along with the children’s book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. Children can then go on “bear hunts” of their own in their neighborhoods.
The department is also hosting a couple of contests including a dance-off and cake or cupcake decorating contest. Videos of individuals or families and their dances can be submitted to the department by March 27 and pictures of their sugary creations by March 30. Submissions should include a photo/video, individuals’ names, ages, and descriptions for the baking contest. The top three winners of each will be posted on the department’s Facebook page.
Epple said the department has already received 17 videos for the dance-off and almost 20 for the baking competition. The department is working to continue coming up with fun, at-home activities for families.
“We’ll continue doing this,” Epple said. “We’re hoping things get better but we’ll just keep doing our best to make sure we’re pushing along our philosophy when we can’t see them. Believe me, we hate it as much as everyone else. We look forward to greeting people and seeing them and now we can't, but we’re all trying to make the best of it.”