Despite increasing concerns about the coronavirus and the spread of germs, parks in North Augusta were busy with people getting some exercise and Vitamin D – just maybe a bit farther apart than usual.

The playground and fields at Riverview Park were being utilized, and the Greeneway along the river was seeing plenty of mid-morning traffic on Friday.

Anthony Holden and his son, Justus, were at Riverview Park so Justus could practice goalkeeping and Anthony and their dog could get moving, too.

He said there are benefits to still having local parks open for people to enjoy.

“I wouldn’t say if I had a younger kid I would be doing the playground because of all the touching and germs, but because of the openness of parks, you don’t have to be next to somebody,” Holden said. “We’re still getting outside and doing what we should do to stay fit.”

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Anthony and Justus Holden spent Friday morning doing some soccer practice Friday.

Holden is a teacher in Richmond County and said doing distance learning can be a challenge, especially for kids who aren’t used to it.

He said in his downtime he has caught up on yard work and is keeping up with grading.

North Augusta Parks, Recreation and Tourism director Rick Meyer said folks need an outlet during this time. 

"They need fresh air and to be able to enjoy the beautiful weather and keep a positive mindset. Vitamin D from the sunshine is the best vitamin D you can get," Meyer said. 

Katharine Huber and Ashlee Hemma were hanging out with their kids at the playground at Riverview Park and said it’s important to maintain some normalcy, even with the coronavirus concerns.

“I try to just approach this with more of a level head,” Huber said, “You do take precautions as you can, but I’m also trying to live my life and get some sunshine.”

Hedy Scherer was also spending some time in the park and said she’s been doing some driving around. “I shouldn’t be wasting gas probably,” she said, but added she will take precautions to protect herself at the gas pump.

“I think I’m not so vulnerable, but the old people are supposedly vulnerable,” she said.

Scherer remembered her time in Germany as a child during World War II.

“It’s a little bit strange – it does remind me in some sort of way of World War II,” she said.

“I was a child like the little ones, and it was just hard all of a sudden. Of course eventually bombs were dropped all of a sudden, explosives, fire bombs and my whole city burned. But you see, nobody was screaming and crying. There was some kind of strength from the people to endure whatever had to be endured, you know,” she said.

Marie and Mike Johnston were taking a stroll along the river on the Greeneway and said, even with the concerns, folks have still got to stay active.

“You’ve still got to go about your normal activities – you’ve just got to be careful,” Marie said, adding they are staying away from crowds.

Michele Lisenbe and her family also took a walk along the Greeneway and said there were more people on Friday than there had been all week.

“We just walk and don’t talk,” she said. “Normally we stop and talk and everyone wants to see everybody.”

North Augusta Parks, Recreation and Tourism have closed Riverview Park Activities Center and the Community Center as well as city-sponsored recreational sports. All city parks with playgrounds will be closed beginning March 23. Playgrounds at Riverview Park and Maude Edenfield Park will be closed, but the rest of the parks will stay open. City parks without playground equipment, including the Greeneway, will remain open. 

Meyer said the decision to close the parks with playgrounds was a difficult decision but one that had to be made. He said the biggest thing people can do right now is follow CDC guidelines. 

"Follow those guidelines and keep your hands washed and keep your hands away from your face and be safe," Meyer said.

"Hopefully we can get through this sooner rather than later, but in the meantime we've got to deal with it and have a positive attitude about it and get through this together as a community."

Follow Lindsey on Twitter at @LindseyNHodges. 

Lindsey is the North Augusta reporter at the Aiken Standard and North Augusta Star. She graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2017, and grew up in Hodges, SC.