Residents who typically participate in Pickerington's recreation offerings will have to hope for pleasant weather this fall because the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has all but wiped out traditional autumn programs and events offered by the city.
Last fall, the Pickerington Parks and Recreation Department offered 53 programs for people to stay active or try to get in shape as the calendar headed toward winter.
This year, those offerings are down to 16.
Parks and recreation director Becca Medinger said the culprit is the coronavirus, which is being compounded by the lack of indoor spaces that can be used in compliance with state and local health guidelines related to the pandemic.
"A lot of the little kids' stuff is definitely not going forward this fall," Medinger said. "Some of the sports programs are limited at this time, and a bunch of the adult programs are very limited."
Medinger noted the city does not have any indoor recreation facilities and historically has partnered with Pickerington Schools, the Pickerington Senior Center and other venues, such as local churches, to host fall recreation programs.
"It's two things: The indoor spaces we don't have and the large gatherings we cannot have," she said.
The impact of the pandemic led the department to scrap plans to mail a fall program guide to residents.
A list of programs offered is available at cityofpickerington.activityreg.com/selectactivity_t2.wcs. Registration for them opened Aug. 12 and is ongoing.
"We probably won't add any more to the fall season, as we would have to coordinate with the instructor and facility, meet guidelines, advertise to community, provide time to register and then, by the time that is all done, it will be winter," Medinger said.
In addition to such programs as adult volleyball leagues, the city has canceled its annual Enchanted Princess Party, which had been slated Sept. 26 and was billed as a chance for children to dress up as their favorite princess and complete crafts.
In the meantime, city officials are eyeing coronavirus trends and will look to guidance from Gov. Mike DeWine to determine if any city-sponsored Halloween events will take place.
"I really think the governor will address that and some of the holiday-gathering events at some point," Medinger said.
Although the impact on fall programming has been severe, Medinger said, large numbers of people have been visiting city parks since March.
She said she hopes that will continue through the fall.
"We strongly encourage the community to use the parks during the pandemic to get outside in the fresh air, relax, unwind," Medinger said. "Enjoy various recreation options, such as a walk in the park, bike along the new bike paths, fish at the ponds, enjoy the beautiful trees in the arboretum, visit the variety of playgrounds throughout the city -- all while staying safe and practicing social distancing, washing hands frequently and wearing a mask."