Community members can frequently be seen walking and jogging the roughly 2-mile dirt track around Schott Park in Humble. Although stay-at-home orders are in place in Harris County until April 30, public parks and trails in Kingwood and Humble have not been closed to the public, allowing residents the opportunity to work on their physical and mental health.
Humble resident Sharde Tupou said she likes to bring her two young children—who would normally be at preschool—to Schott Park toget exercise and take a break from being inside.
"Today, we came to get some fresh air because the kids—being stuck in the house ... is difficult for them, too," she said. "Every day, if the weather allows, we just go outside our apartment and we spend some time outside."
Although park equipment—such as benches and playgrounds—have been taped off from use, the trails at Schott Park are being heavily used by local residents, Humble City Manager Jason Stuebe said.
Stuebe said so long as park goers continue to abide by social distancing guidelines, stay off park equipment and are not congregating, the city intends to keep the parks open through the pandemic.
"Quite frankly, that's something that we actually take very seriously," he said. "We know people are stuck in their houses; they're going to get stir crazy, so they need an outlet—they need somewhere to go. And so long as we can provide that, we will continue to."
Pedaling through the pandemic
Tailwind Bicycles, a bicycle shop in Kingwood, has been busy with hundreds of bicycle repairs in the wake of the virus, owner Ben McQuade said. Kingwood residents have been exhuming their old bikes from their garages and bringing them to the shop for tuneups, he said.
"I hate to say that [the business is] essential with all the health care workers and everything, but I think we're providing a phenomenal service to the community as well," McQuade said. "[We're] trying to keep everybody sane and active during this time."
Since the stay-at-home orders began, McQuade said the shop has been "overloaded" with repairs. Foot traffic as well as website traffic has increased about 300%, and in the last three days the shop has taken in almost 100 service orders, he said.
Several longtime customers have volunteered their time to help Tailwind Bicycles handle the influx of repair orders. Cyclist Mark Wood took a week off work to fix and tune bikes outside the shop as repair operations have been moved outdoors to keep groups from gathering inside.
"It's one of those odd things that all the sudden this is one of the hard-to-get-into places," Wood said. "All these bikes—as soon as we put them together—they'll all be sold."
Kingwood resident Ron Arace stopped by the shop on April 15 to get his son's bike repaired, so his family could go on bike rides together. His family has also been going fishing and planting flowers in the yard during stay-at-home orders.
"I believe that God has given us some time to slow down a little bit and just reflect on what's important," Arace said. "We're taking the opportunity to simplify a little bit, and I just hope that others are doing the same. It's a gift."
Some local residents also are making an effort to have in-person interactions with friends and family while maintaining a safe distance. Surrounded by her family, Kingwood resident Sherrie Jennings celebrated her birthday from her car in a parking lot on April 15.
Her two children and grandchildren sat in front and back seats of their own cars to celebrate Jennings' birthday. Jennings said her family wanted to still celebrate her birthday—even if they were not able to stand close or hug each other.
"We just always usually go out to eat and go back to my house and open gifts and have cake," she said. "They came by my house, and they had balloons on the cars, and they did a parade in front of my house. ... It was so cool."
Meanwhile, eight friends with lawn chairs sat in a large circle at Kingwood Town Center Park to enjoy to-go appetizers from the nearby Chachi's Mexican Restaurant. Local resident Twila Carter said she and her friends made sure to sit far enough apart to meet social distancing guidelines, but it was important to them to support local restaurants during this time.
"It's great to sit in your backyard, your front yard, your side yard, your driveway, ... but it's kind of nice to gather a group," Carter said. "We all live that way or this way or whatever. It's just a gathering place."