Park districts remind visitors playgrounds are closed


URBANA-CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Although Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order Friday closed all playgrounds to the public, some people have seen kids still clambering about now-prohibited play areas.

Karla Swanberg, who regularly visits Hessel Park, said she has seen kids on the playground there in the past few days. She also said, “I guess it’s the parent’s choice if they want to bring them or not, you know?”

“It’s hard to keep kids indoors.”

She added she has a grandson who likes to visit the playground at Hessel Park. Her grandson has been getting time outdoors, Swanberg said, but he hasn’t been to that playground recently.

While the governor’s orders mandated playgrounds to close along with other park district facilities, trails and grass fields remain open for use.

Joshua Beland came out to Hessel Park for a walk with his friends Thursday. He said staying inside was getting depressing for him, so going out for a walk was “awesome.”

Beland agreed the state’s decision to close the playground was a good idea.

“We don’t want little kids getting sick,” he said. “We don’t want older ones getting sick too.”

The Champaign Park District published a Facebook post Wednesday morning to remind the public that playground equipment had been closed, per the governor’s orders.

Urbana Park District officials also reminded the public playgrounds were closed via a press release Thursday morning.

About noon Thursday, Shamari Graham made a visit to Meadowbrook park, hoping her child might get a chance to swing on the swing set “as a last resort.” Instead, she found it was roped off with yellow caution tape.

“I think the whole thing is just kind of crazy,” Graham said. “We don’t have too many ways to get out and get exercise.”

Other parks in Urbana, such as Carle Park, didn’t have its playground sectioned off with tape. Champaign’s West Side Park already has a metal fence bordering its playground, but the gate was found unlocked Thursday.

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