Shawnee Co. Parks & Rec reopen playgrounds

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- After months of being closed due to COVID-19, Shawnee County Parks & Rec reopened their playgrounds Friday.

With beautiful weather to kick off Memorial Day weekend, families couldn't wait to enjoy it.

Shelly Morse from Topeka came to Gage Park with her son Saturday. She said, "He's been wanting to play at parks and stuff, so this is great."

Brian Haney traveled down from Lawrence with his daughter. "We're here to go to the zoo, but she saw the park first, so we decided to come over and play," he said.

Megan McCoy said this is something her two kids needed.

"They just miss, not even interacting with kids, but just being around other kids and that sense of normalcy," she said.

Shawnee County Parks & Rec encourages people to get out and enjoy the parks, but stay safe.

Communications and Public Information Supervisor, Mike McLaughlin said, "We're having some signs made that we'll have out next week that say 'be smart, stay 6 feet apart.' Even though the playgrounds are back open, social distancing stays in effect. We encourage everyone to do their own personal risk assessment, what you feel is safe for your family."

Haney and Morse said they already feel comfortable returning to the playgrounds.

"I feel safe," Morse continued saying, "I think it's important for everybody to feel like we can get out and play, be around each other and not be afraid."

Haney agreed saying, "Very safe, I have no problems."

Throughout the pandemic, parks and trails have become an escape from the noise.

McLaughlin said, "We've been very pleased that parks and trails have stayed open and they provided people a chance to get out during the stay at home, find a little peace and restoration, which is very important mentally as well as physically right now."

Their goal now is to help people return to some normalcy.

"We're doing everything we can that's possible, to give people as much of their summer as we can," said McLaughlin.

Shawnee County Parks & Rec released an updated summer schedule. The Gage Park mini train and carousel are set to to open June 1st, splash pads on June 8th and pools will open June 22nd.

To see their full schedule, visit their website.