EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Adrienne Lacy (left) makes a crafts video with Melissa Ebsch Thursday at the Marinette Community REC Center Thursday in Marinette.
EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard

Adrienne Lacy (left) makes a crafts video with Melissa Ebsch Thursday at the Marinette Community REC Center Thursday in Marinette.

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MARINETTE — Just as traces of spring began surfacing in the protracted hours of evening daylight and the chatter of morning birds, the words “social distancing” squashed many of the recreational plans anticipated by area residents and businesses when cancellations of various upcoming social activities and events. 

However, in this era of technology, social distancing does not mean social isolation.

As City of Menominee Fire Chief Mark Petersen said in a March 19 EagleHerald article, “we have one advantage nowadays that we didn’t have 15 years ago … the internet.” 

With the prospects of social isolation and distancing settling in as an extension of cabin fever with the weight of loneliness attached, officials at the Marinette Recreation Department offer a vital piece of advice: An entire universe of mental (and even physical) recreational optimism, fascination and exploration lies within the monitor on your desk, or in the palm of your hand.

So despite the temporary closure of the Marinette Community REC Center, it is fitting that the Center’s staff continues to provide the necessary direction that weeds past all the doom, gloom and cynicism pervaded on social media to help motivate and keep people active in both mind and body.

“We (at the REC Center) are going to be a resource for hands-on recreational content on the internet,” said Marinette Director of Tourism & Marketing Melissa Ebsch. 

Despite the array of closures and cancellations of restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, sporting and entertainment events and other recreational opportunities across the area, the broadband of electrons and electromagnetic waves continue to carry the mission of the Marinette’s Recreation Department streaming through computer and smartphone monitors throughout the region, and even into Alaska.

Each day the officials at the REC Center plan to post a video to the Marinette Recreation Department Facebook page that will help encourage both the body and the mind to fight the grungy weight of loneliness that might settle in during this period of social distancing. According to Assistant Recreation Director Adrienne Lacy, the themes of the videos will rotate daily between recreational, educational, arts and crafts, passive diversions and even interactive.  

“Once a day, every day in order to help you get through this social distancing, come back to the City of Marinette Recreation (Facebook) page and I will give you an idea,” Lacy said. “It’s going to be something new each day.” 

The videos begin the first full day of the REC Center’s closure on Tuesday, featuring a fun diversion video set to the fitting tune of Eric Carmen’s 1975  song “All by Myself.” The post was shared 37 times and made it all the way to the Alaska Department of Recreation’s Facebook page. As of Friday, it was still posted near the top of the Alaska newsfeed.

Since Tuesday, two more daily videos offered ideas and motivation to help keep spirits high while still maintaining that social distancing of 6 feet. The first promoted stretching the legs for a good outdoors walk with a pet and the second offered the how-to steps for crafting a homemade kite — and the second video wrapped up with a successful test flight. Every day there will be more to come, according to Ebsch.    

She reminds residents that the resources and positive opportunities on the Web span the gambit. For example, NASA maintains a long list of image galleries from all past and active missions on its webpage. One can soar to the edge of the universe, all the way to the beginning time with images from the Hubble Space Telescope; or walk among the red rock landscape of Mars by viewing photos snapped from the surface of the Red Planet by the Mars rover, Curiosity. The NASA site can further one’s intrigue and curiosity with various other ways to learn about science, technology, space exploration and history. 

And the photos are free. To find them navigate to nasa.gov and go to the “Missions” tab. Click on “All Missions A-Z” and then take your pick. 

For something outside the bounds of the computer monitor, heading outdoors might offer another good escape from the anxiety in the air. In a press release issued Thursday, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) stated that the Wisconsin State Parks and Trails will remain open to the public. As the COVID-19 situation changes the WDNR will continue to monitor on-the-ground circumstances each day to determine if park closures become necessary.

“We recognize that spending time outdoors benefits both physical and mental health,” said DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole. “Getting outdoors can also help relieve stress, especially during this public health emergency. A quiet walk does wonders to reduce our anxieties.”

And for more ideas, Ebsch and Lacy encourage area residents to continue checking in with the Marinette Recreation Department.