Philly’s coronavirus response

Basketball, fountains, snacks: Slowly and safely, Philly parks reopen for summer fun

Rec centers are still closed, but at least you can play HORSE.

A child plays in the sprayground at LOVE Park on July 13, 2020

A child plays in the sprayground at LOVE Park on July 13, 2020

Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

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As the city edges into reopening, the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation has begun reinstalling hoops at public basketball courts. Also, spraygrounds were turned on, trails began welcoming visitors and some concession stands even opened.

Officials are being extra cautious because of surging COVID-19 cases elsewhere in the nation — which means you might see a “social distance ambassador” if you’re out and about.

The small group of city employees chooses a different public space to visit. So far the team has patrolled the Schuylkill River Trail, Kelly Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, handing out 5,000 free masks and advising people to stay six feet apart. This weekend they’ll be at FDR Park.

Here’s a rundown of what’s back open at Parks & Rec — and what you can and can’t do there.

Basketball courts

During the height of the pandemic in Philly, the city removed rims from 158 basketball courts across all neighborhoods. The thinking was that pickup games often included close contact — and community coronavirus spread was rampant, plus people weren’t yet wearing masks.

Last week, city staffers started to put the hoops back up.

Mayor Kenney’s order means you still have to wear a mask and stay six feet apart while using the hoops. There’s also a recommendation to avoid competitive games. Stick with solo or distant hooping — H.O.R.S.E., anyone? Just keep it boring enough that you don’t attract a crowd of spectators.

So far, 85 public spaces have them back. The rest should have their nets reinstalled by the end of next week, per Parks & Rec spokesperson Maita Soukup.

Fountains and spraygrounds

In lieu of the city’s usual summertime network of 70+ public pools — which will remain closed this year due to coronavirus budget concerns — spraygrounds have been turned on all over the city to help keep Philly cool. Find one near you here.

Along with 90 other city spraygrounds, the LOVE Park fountain was turned on again on July 6.

What about the rest of Philly’s fountains? Not yet, Soukup said. Parks & Rec is still deciding whether to turn them on at all this season.

“Center City fountains that are not designed to use for residents to cool down remain off,” Soukup said. “We are working with the public health department to determine the feasibility and safety of turning fountains on this summer.

Parks, playgrounds and trails

All outdoor parks, playgrounds and trails have reopened — with the caveat that you wear a mask if you’re ever going to be within 6 feet of someone outside your family group, even when just passing them briefly while jogging.

Food and drink

The nine Parks & Rec restaurants are now open for pickup, take out and outdoor dining.

These include sit-down spots like Capriccio at Cafe Cret on the Ben Franklin Parkway, stands like SquareBurger at Franklin Square, and full-on restaurants (with patio) like the Valley Green Inn on the Wissahickon Trail.

Also now open is Parks on Tap — the roving beer garden that lands at a different public space each weekend. Drinks, snacks, and lots of room for social distancing.

Recreation centers

All indoor Parks & Rec facilities remain closed to the public.

Want some more? Explore other Philly’s coronavirus response stories.

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