LIMA — The sunshine that dominated the day on Thursday had already begun to yield to clouds by mid-afternoon. The mercury still hovered around 60 degrees, however, and more than two dozen cars had jammed into the parking lot on the east end of Bresler Reservoir.
Lima resident Jim Crook is a regular visitor to the reservoir just west of town. He often makes the 3.7-mile walk around the man-made lake that serves as a major water source for the city. He said the number of people out taking advantage of the beautiful spring day on Thursday was “about three times more than usual.”
“But it’s a beautiful day, and you can’t do much else,” Crook quipped, a reference to the social-distancing and shelter-in-place mandates in place throughout Ohio.
“Everybody’s got cabin fever,” said Jim Hubbard, another Lima resident who was walking with his granddaughter, Morgan Griffiths, and his dog, Leroy. Not far behind was Pat Hubbard, Jim’s wife, who was walking with Nicki Horvath and Kayla Griffiths.
Horvath was enjoying a much-needed day off. As an employee at Lima Memorial Health System, she said the past week has been “interesting, to say the least” at her workplace.
Brenna Smith and Matthew Venturella weren’t walking. They were fishing. The problem was, they weren’t “catching.”
“We’ve been here for about 30 minutes with no fish. Somebody’s ready to go home,” Venturella said with a smile, nodding his head in Smith’s direction.
Like the other visitors to the reservoir, the day nonetheless provided the couple with some much-needed relaxation and relief from the newfound “normal” that accompanies the COVID-19 virus.
Venturella is employed as a driver for Coca-Cola. He has seen a few changes to his day-to-day routine as the coronavirus lingers.
“We have to wear gloves now, and we’re told to try to get in and out of stores as quickly as possible and to wash our hands more often,” he said.
Smith is a patient care technician at a Lima hospital. Fishing — even if they weren’t biting — was still preferable to the alternative.
“I was going stir crazy in the house,” she said.
“You can only clean your windows so much,” Elida resident Trisha Line joked. She was making the trek around the reservoir with Megan Edwards and her dog, Mandy.
Edwards checked the Fitbit on her wrist. The 3.7 miles had taken them an hour and 17 minutes and burned 543 calories. It was time well spent, both agreed.
“I was just tired of sitting around the house. I needed to get out,” said Edwards, an employee at Honda of America whose job status these days is tenuous. “It’s nice to see so many people outdoors on such a beautiful day.”
Johnny Appleseed parks are open
Dan Hodges is a naturalist with the Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District that oversees 14 properties in and around Allen County. He encourages residents to get outdoors and enjoy the park district facilities, so long as it’s done in a responsible manner.
“I think it’s a very good thing that people are getting out and about. We need to be out more than ever. Even the governor has said that one of the essential activities people should do is to get outside in the fresh air,” Hodges said. “It’s imperative now more than ever. We just ask that people to keep their hands clean and maintain the social distancing requirements.”
While the park district has canceled all organized activities through April 30, Hodges said videos for kids and other youth activities are being put up on the district’s Facebook page. With the exception of Fort Amanda State Memorial, all parks remain open for hiking, fishing and nature watching.
“We’ve opened the restrooms at all the facilities and we’re cleaning them daily,” Hodges said. “We’ve focused our efforts on being open and being safe. The sites have been pretty packed with the recent warm weather. I think people are taking the social distancing recommendations seriously, and that’s a very good thing.”