SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION--TV) Hundreds of people and children lined up as early as before 10 a.m. at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk as rides reopen for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most rides and attractions are now open at a limited capacity, and many visitors say the reopening is a sign of hope that things could soon return to normal.
Even some of the youngest visitors said they couldn't wait to get on the rides after a long time at home during the shelter in place.
"We get to see people again in person," says one child visitor.
One parent, Alex Ramsarup from Sacaramento, says this was his first time coming to the boardwalk and felt it was important to get his young daughter interacting and having fun with others.
“The hardest part is just getting her to interact with other kids and usually all the places she goes to like the daycares and stuff, that’s where she interacts mostly but it’s all been shut down so it’s hard to get all the kids together," says Ramsarup.
Most rides were open with people seated in every other seat or every other cart, depending on each type of ride.
“We have capacity restrictions of 25 percent that apply to the entire park and the rides as well, guests are being spread out, people from different households are not being seated together," says Santa Cruz Boardwalk Spokesperson Kris Reyes.
Reyes explains rides are temporarily shut down intermittently for cleaning and sanitation. At the Giant Dipper roller coaster for example, staff members wiped down the rides at least every thirty minutes.
The good news, Reyes says, is that people are allowed to scream on the rides all they want, as long as they keep their masks on during all rides. Face masks are still the number one rule at the boardwalk.
Reyes says there have not been any issues with health guidelines and enforcement so far and that the reopening of the rides and attractions means more revenue, jobs and support for local businesses who rely on income from tourism.
“It’s been a quiet year here at the beach for everybody that works down here and whose livelihood depends on the beach and the boardwalk, reopening today is a monumental moment in out history," says Reyes.
While boardwalk officials say they are prepared to handle the large crowds, they say people can still register online to make a reservation for the rides ahead of time.
For more details or to make a reservation, visit https://linktr.ee/beachboardwalk