A mild, sunny Memorial Day in Denver, capital of U.S. state of Colorado, brought many residents out jogging, visiting parks, or driving into the nearby Rockies to enjoy the spring-like weather.
However, crowds were small, social distancing was observed, and most people were wearing masks in the Mile-High City.
“We are not wearing masks when we are with our family people, but when we are in public, we always cover up for the safety of others,” said Miguel Mendoza, who told Xinhua he attended a small gathering at his brother’s house on the national holiday where Americans honor the fallen military dead.
Above in eastern Colorado’s clear skies, four Colorado Army National Guard helicopters buzzed communities across the Denver metro area for almost three hours, and many of the areas’ three million residents stood outside and cheered.
Other Coloradans ventured into the nearby Rocky Mountains to hike and drive around scenic areas, park rangers reported. But with no parades and many outdoor parks closed, Coloradans had its most reserved Memorial Day in decades.
Few were complaining.
“Not much has changed for me,” Mendoza said. “I still got together with family members for music, dancing and good food,” he said.
Colorado followed the example of most of America’s West – especially California, Oregon and Washington where Democratic governors enforced social distancing guidelines and reduced crowding by limiting parking at parks and recreation areas.
“California beaches are open, but for the most, people are staying away,” CBS News correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti reported from the Pacific Ocean near Los Angeles.
In Arizona, COVID-19 weary stay-at-home residents filled many state parks and recreation areas, with more than 100 cars “already lined up before 6 a.m. ready to get in and start celebrating Memorial Day,” 12 news.com reported.
Arizona, run by a Republican governor, saw COVID-19 rules not strictly enforced, with TV news footage showing most people not seen wearing masks, and park rangers not enforcing social distancing guidelines.
The Lake Pleasant recreation area, located outside the state capital and largest city of Phoenix, was flooded by people over the weekend – a line of cars stretched back 25-kilometers on Friday for people getting into the park.
However, a Lake Pleasant park ranger told Phoenix Channel 10 news he was more concerned with people operating motor boats while under the influence of alcohol.
Across the Grand Canyon State, and at the national park itself, rangers were limiting parking in the hope of reducing the crowds.
EAST vs WEST
The scene was much different 5,000 kilometers away on America’s East Coast, especially in states controlled by Republican governors.
Thousands of young people crowded beaches in the southern states of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina – all run by Republican governors – a stark contrast to the beaches on the Pacific Coast.
Several state parks in Arkansas and Missouri were showcased on social media – where videos aired showing thousands of people packed into lakes, ponds and swimming pools – completely ignoring social distancing guidelines.
After large crowds gathered at the Lake of the Ozarks park, in defiance of Missouri’s social distancing guidelines, the St. Louis County Department of Health issued an advisory Monday evening urging anyone who recently ignored social distancing guidelines to self-quarantine for 14 days or until they test negative for coronavirus.