As if 2020 couldn’t be any more special, unique, or different (insert your favorite adjective), we all have at least another month of a shutdown at a time of year when we are anything but programmed to be isolated.

Youth and high school sports give allow us an to come together and cheer on the local group of kids trying to make memories. 

Those memories are all that we will have for the time being without getting more creative than simply driving over to the local gym or ice rink.

The latest shutdown, Executive Order 20-99, will last through Dec. 18 barring virtually all indoor entertainment, meaning Richfield Ice Arena and Bloomington Ice Garden will remain closed during a traditionally busy season with high school and youth hockey, figure skating, skating lessons and curling programming all suspended.

Yes, it is tough to be a high schooler, especially a senior who had to sacrifice sports last spring (or a run to the state basketball tournament) only to be asked once again to hold on while the winter season is at a minimum delayed until near Christmas time. 

These aren’t life experiences that can be replaced next season and could have a significant impact on the trajectory of a promising opportunity to play after high school. The barriers in place this fall seemed to work well when sports were  outdoors and spread-out. While fall hockey and basketball programs have been cautious, given they both take place indoors there are challenges

Starting winter sports in early January might be the best option to help get everyone back on track but what happens if the number of people in the hospitals and deaths continues to rise higher in January? It’s a tough question to answer. How can activities begin again while people are literally fighting for their lives when hospitals are full? 

Like I have written in the past, I don’t know the perfect answer when it comes to opening or closing venues or limiting gatherings. But following the advice from medical experts seems like a reasonable approach to keep as many people healthy and alive as possible. Of course, that means inconveniences like no practices, birthday parties, get-togethers with friends or simply spending time together around a bonfire or watching the Vikings with friends and family. 

Thank you to the front-line workers willing to run toward danger to keep us safe. Those doctors, nurses, support staff, and emergency responders deserve all of the thanks and credit for keeping our loved ones safe and on the road to recovery. One way I am showing my gratitude is by wearing a mask.

Over the last month, I’ve gone from knowing virtually no one who dealt with COVID-19 to too many people in my life who have all successfully pulled through to return to whatever normal means these days. 

With the shutdown, local businesses can use the support in any way possible – like ordering dinner from Shantytown or 5-8 Club a few more times than usual. What are your must-try places in Richfield and Bloomington?

Bloomington Parks

Last week the Bloomington City Council continued to talk about the future of the city’s park system, noting a need to close a few of the outdoor ice rinks due to several factors including budget, usage and a strategic move away from outdoor skating rinks to meet a shift in demographics and needs. One example is more dog parks, splash pads, inclusive playgrounds, skate parks or flexible green space, and fewer softball fields or ice rinks with boards. 

As part of the park master plan program, an informal tally of rink users by the warming shelter staff (paid or volunteer) found Running Park the busiest, which is no surprise with two boarded rinks and a massive sheet covering the size of a football field. The other rinks proposed to remain open include Brookside, Bryant, Kelly, Popular Bridge, Southwood, Sunrise, Westwood, and after discussion Ridgeview.

The process to develop a master plan for the future of the park system in Bloomington was robust and the idea of offering unique offerings like a pump track or skills park for bikes, more pickleball courts, dog parks or more accessible playgrounds is a step in the right direction.

I also like the idea of being able to bring our two kids to the local park to play with the neighbors without having to worry if they will either infect or be infected by something we could’ve controlled. 

Follow Jason Olson on Twitter @Jason0lson.


Follow Jason Olson on Twitter at @Jason0lson.

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