COVID-19, smoke and heat limit Labor Day activities in the Sacramento area

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Traditional Labor Day activities had a very different look about them this year.

The last holiday of the summer had an ominous look about it. The air quality danced in and out of the unhealthy range in the middle of a triple-digit heat wave and a pandemic to boot.

The bad air didn’t deter Step 1 Dance & Fitness from holding several free classes to celebrate its new Natomas location. Classes were only allowed outdoors.

That’s not to say there weren’t second thoughts.

“Oh my God, I didn’t hardly sleep at all,” said the studio’s co-owner, Mary Wright. “I was worried about the temperature, but we didn’t want to cancel last minute.”

Judging from the turnout it was the right decision.

Dana Urban-Cole not only taught a session, she participated in two others. She said it was worth the pain.

“It felt really good to be out here with other people and just motivating each other, and it felt good to be out,” she told FOX40.

Old Sacramento invited visitors to the tourist location that normally draws big crowds on Labor Day weekend. Although there wasn’t a special event, visitors came to eat, shop and browse.

“I’m surprised there are a lot of people,” said visitor Sabino Leon. “I’m surprised they are not at home. People are coming out.”

Perhaps they had a change of heart like Leon.

“This weekend I stayed home. I mean, I didn’t feel like going nowhere or nothing,” Leon said. “I stayed home and today is the holiday and I had to do something. So, I came from Marysville to here.”

Artist Ley Earthwright came down from Washington state where it was 30 degrees cooler to participate in the annual Chalk It Up event. They brought their own shade — a small sacrifice for the sake of art.

“It’s also the last day of Chalk It Up so it’s super motivating to finish all of it,” Earthwright said.

It was perhaps the combination of heat, smoke and COVID-19 that kept the crowd at Tiscornia Park modest. It was a typical weekend earlier in the year.

While watercraft were plentiful at the spot where the American and Sacramento rivers meet, groups on shore seemed content to social distance.

And at William Land Park it was unusually quiet. The zoo was open to a limited number of visitors and Fairytale Town has been closed Mondays through Wednesdays.

On a normal summer weekend, drivers would barely find a parking spot in the area let alone an empty picnic table. It was in stark contrast to what was going on in the area last year.

The annual Labor Day Picnic was held in Fairytale Town, drawing hundreds of union members to hear political speeches and celebrate the role of American workers. 

The cancelation of large public events for safety reasons, combined with the heat and smoke, meant those who did brave the elements had the park to themselves.

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