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'You Have To Get Out' — See How Kansas Citians Enjoyed A Sun-Soaked Weekend While Maintaining Social Distance

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Carlos Moreno
Kyla Dawn practices her hoop dancing beneath the shade of some trees at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The out-of-work bartender routinely practices hoop dancing on the museum’s grounds. She said the stay-at-home measures have been a “huge transition” for her.

Stay-at-home orders have been in place for more than a month, and restrictions for many metro residents are set to end Sunday, May 3.

Whether it was relaxing in the sun, exercising or simply getting out of the house, Kansas Citians moved outdoors Saturday to soak up the sun after yet another week of stay-at-home measures, this one shrouded mostly in gray.

“There are only so many movies you can watch in one day,” said Will Franke, a University of Arkansas student who was fly fishing at Legacy Park in Lee’s Summit. Franke and his girlfriend have been house-sitting for his uncle while doing their classes online.

Franke recently took up fly fishing, and the couple decided to walk their uncle’s dog at Legacy Park and get in a little fly-casting practice in the pond there. Franke said he wasn’t getting any nibbles in the choppy water but was simply glad to be outside.

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Carlos Moreno
Will Franke casts a line while his girlfriend, Mady Fancher, watches Saturday morning at Legacy Park in Lee's Summit. The two University of Arkansas students are home during the pandemic and were out walking the dog of Franke's uncle where the couple is house-sitting.

A casual glance around other Kansas City metro area parks showed many taking advantage of the warmer, dryer weather. Not many people were seen wearing masks outdoors, but most sun-seekers in the local parks seemed to be observing social distancing measures.

Sam Donnell and his girlfriend, Bella Fernandez, were relaxing on a blanket at Gillham Park in Kansas City, Missouri, Saturday afternoon surrounded by a mostly empty field of grass.

“We just came to lay in the sun, listen to music, read and relax,” Donnell said. Their only company was another pair about 70 yards away doing yoga.

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Sam Donnell and Bella Fernandez soak up the sun at Kansas City's Gillham Park on Saturday. They said they enjoyed the wide open space at the park, which made it a lot easier to maintain social distance.

Donnell and Fernandez live within walking distance of the park and described themselves as in an “isolationship." They realized how convenient the park is to enjoy and utilize as opposed to locking themselves inside.

“It’s been a change for sure,” Fernandez said of their new normal. “I never made coming to the park a priority before.”

One group who was practicing social distancing and wearing their masks were members of the Palestine Senior Activity Center in Kansas City. Six of the group's members gathered near the entrance to Swope Park to do their weekly line dancing session.

“It’s so much easier to have social distance on the roads,” said the group’s instructor, Helen Jones. On this Saturday, they gathered on the pavement near the entrance of Swope Park, where barricades had been placed earlier in the month to keep out vehicle traffic.

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Carlos Moreno
Members of the Palestine Senior Activity Center practice line dancing at Swope Park on Saturday. The group was taking advantage of the barricaded entrance that facilitates pedestrian use of the park while helping maintain social distancing measures.

On the other side of town at Anita B. Gorman Park, Katy and Michael Ocon were enjoying an outdoor standby from pre-pandemic times: Pokémon GO.

Sitting in the shade of the Clay County Veterans Memorial, they were checking their phones with their dog Remi sniffing at passersby. Behind them in the grassy area of the park, two park visitors wandered slowly, trying to capture Pokémon.

The Ocons said they hadn’t seen a lot of people wearing masks in the park, but most everyone was maintaining a safe distance. The couple said they were adjusting to life in times of the coronavirus but were enjoying the financial savings of not going out or driving a lot.

Both are still working, however, and said the day was too beautiful to stay indoors.

“You have to get out,” Ocon said.

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Katy and Michael Ocon rest in the shade of the Clay County Veterans Memorial at Anita P. Gorman Park on Saturday. The couple were out walking their dog, Remi, while also playing Pokémon GO.

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