On Wednesday afternoon, LaPrele Park was humming with activity.
A half-dozen families fished together at Huck Finn Pond. People played disc golf, walked their dogs and ran through the park. Children played at the edge of Spring Creek.
With most local institutions shuttered for at least a few weeks if not longer, Laramie residents are taking to the parks, streets and trails instead.
Cyclists, hikers, runners, walkers and skiers have noticed higher traffic on the Laramie River Greenbelt, Schoolyard Trails and nearby public lands, not to mention city sidewalks. They’ve reported seeking time outside to escape boredom, ease the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic and boost their physical and mental health — especially important with the closure of fitness centers and gyms.
Kaiha Lowry, a student at Laramie Middle School, tossed a fishing line into the pond and watched her bobber bounce on the water. She said she’s been trying to spend more time outside fishing and riding her bike.
“I don’t like to be cooped up in the house, and there’s not much to do there, really,” she said.
Nearby, Amy Parker Williams and Allison Gernant walked their dogs across the park. Social distancing is easy in Laramie’s outdoor spaces, they said, and the outdoors offer an escape from worry.
“When I go outside and I can see far away, I can see the big picture,” Gernant said. “I don’t get stuck in the minutiae.”
Parker Williams has been encouraging her three teenage children to spend time outdoors, and their dog has been getting lots of walks.
“It’s so important to get out right now,” she said.
Mountain biker Bryon Lee said his dogs have been getting an “exceptional” number of walks. He also organized an outing to the Schoolyard Trails with a small group of friends. On bikes, he said, they can maintain social distance recommendations and enjoy being outside as spring weather continues.
“As an extrovert, it’s been a little rough,” he said of recent closures.
Dewey Gallegos, who owns Pedal House bike shop, said business has been brisk as cyclists get their equipment up and running.
“People are getting stuff fixed, and they’re trying to be more active this way,” he said. “We’ve been really busy.”
Gallegos said customers have been respectful of minimizing crowds in the shop, and employees have been bleaching surfaces repeatedly. Meanwhile, he’s hoping everyone can take advantage of time outside to escape economic worries and health concerns.
“I think people are remembering how awesome it is to go outside and do things,” he said.