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Sioux Falls Closes Playgrounds

Sioux Falls is closing playgrounds, park benches, and other park facilities where lots of people may gather and increase the spread of the coronavirus:

The public can’t play basketball and kids can’t play on playground equipment and other facilities are off limits, but the public still has limited use city parks, Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Director Don Kearney said today.

Here’s what is off-limits: No use of playground equipment, basketball courts, shelter houses or benches, of dog parks and no organized games on athletic fields or social gatherings at the park. Users must maintain proper social distancing on bike and walking trails and on all park property areas that are not closed to the public.

Kearney said, for example, if a person wants to bring a lawn chair and eat lunch or read a book in the park, that’s fine, as long as the person is six-feet away from others. He’d also recommend staying away from any common surface areas such as a railing [Rae Yost, “Sioux Falls Bans Access to Park Facilities but Official Says Parks Still Open for Some Uses,” KELO-TV, 2020.03.31].

I can’t help thinking of the 2006 film Children of Men: empty schools, now empty playgrounds.

Sertoma Park climbing dome
We gotta wait, but someday, sunshine will again mean a trip to the park.

I’m not saying Sioux Falls is making a bad choice. Quite the contrary: kids are germ factories, and keeping them from sharing those germs right now is vital.

But there’s still enough five-year-old in me to see a playground, be told I can’t go play, and feel awfully sad.

No hugs from teachers, no school lunch with friends, no swings or slides…

No matter how bad you have it right now, your kids have it worse. Be extra good to your kids.


  1. Eve Fisher 2020-04-01 17:18

    I have to hand it to TenHaken, he’s trying. He was furious a couple of weeks ago, after some people posted pictures on FB of the 18th Amendment bar’s jammed full parking lot with a party bus to boot. The truth is, while most of my age group is staying home except for trips to the grocery store, drugstore, and the daily walk, the younger crowd isn’t.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-04-02 22:36

    Eve, how is it that young people aren’t getting it? Is it lack of experience? Fantasies that coronavirus only kills old folks? What?

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-04-02 22:36

    And what all is left for them to go do around town? Are those bars TenHaken pointed out still packed?

  4. Eve Fisher 2020-04-03 09:37

    The passionate belief in invulnerability of youth. The basic “bunch of f***in’ bulls***” attitude that IS adolescence. The complete boredom, mixed with a refusal to do anything useful. And as to where they’re going – well, they’re going to the parks. Where they talk a lot, some drink and smoke and eat, and they party in or around the shelters. They’re also doing it in Madison – I understand there’s a lot of photos been taken of Totland Park on the east side of teenagers partying there. And the parents – they either can’t or won’t keep them in. And without a stay at home order, or curfew, the police can’t do much about it.

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