By David Markham
Despite a shortened season and the implementation of COVID-19 safety measures, JCPRD’s hayrides for organized groups are still proving popular this year.
Outdoor Education Manager Bill McGowan said this week that more than 80 groups have signed up for this year’s hayrides, which will take place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday dates through Nov. 22 at Oak Ridge Parklands on the north side of Shawnee Mission Park, 7460 Ogg Road, Shawnee. No rides are being offered this year at Heritage Park.
On Fridays, hayride timeslots begin at 4, 6, 7:30, and 9 p.m. On Saturdays, hayride timeslots begin at 2:30 p.m., 4, 5:30, 7, and 8:30 p.m. Sunday timeslots are at 2:30, 4, 5:30, and 7 p.m.
“We’re having a good season considering the pandemic,” McGowan said. “It’s going well so far, and it has exceeded our expectations.”
Hayrides booked so far have been scheduled for birthday parties and other family events, scout groups, church groups, cheerleaders and other school groups, a neighborhood party, and more. JCPRD’s separate Public Hayrides, which in past years have allowed individuals and families to participate in a hayride with other folks they don’t know, are not being offered this year.
This year’s organized group hayride offerings have been modified for physical distancing and COVID-19 safe practices.
“Our typical hayride is usually 25 people in a wagon, and up to 30 with kids, but due to COVID, but we’ve decided to go down to a maximum of 20 to lessen the crowding in the wagons, and then they have to wear masks while in the haywagons,” McGowan said. “We’ll have hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, and we’ll be sanitizing high-touch surfaces like the stairs and picnic tables.
Hayrides still conclude with a warm campfire where apple cider and marshmallows await.
“We’re requesting that they have one person in each group be a server and we’re providing them PPE to do that,” McGowan said.
JCPRD hayrides are tractor-drawn, last approximately one hour, and are followed by a one-hour campfire. The cost is $8 per person or a minimum of $90 when there are 12 riders or less. There is a maximum of 20 people per wagon and one adult per ten children is required.
While reservations are usually required two weeks in advance of the date of the hayride, reservations are currently being taken without that extra time, if timeslots are available. For scheduling and information, call (913) 831-3359.