It's been a bit of a wait, but Magical Bridge playground reopened to the public on Nov. 17 under new coronavirus protocols, city officials announced this week. Due to its high number of visitors — about 25,000 a month before COVID-19 —the playground at Palo Alto's Mitchell Park, which is accessible to visitors of all abilities, was the only Palo Alto playground to remain shuttered for the past month even as all the other city playgrounds were permitted to open back up with new safety measures.
Magical Bridge will now have new rules to control overcrowding, including a 30-minute time limit for visits and capacity of 55 visitors at one time. When demand is high, visitors will be asked to line up 6 feet apart and wait for their turn. Palo Alto city staff will monitor the entrance and exit to the playground to make sure the site doesn't exceed capacity and that everyone is socially distanced.
The playground will be open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., according to the city's announcement. On Mondays, staff will clean the playground and open it up for limited hours to disability classes and organizations. The rules are largely consistent with the requests from the Magical Bridge Foundation, a nonprofit that has been advocating for inclusive playgrounds and that is preparing to open a new one in Redwood City.
The city and nonprofit are also looking for new Kindness Ambassadors, volunteers who will monitor the playground, welcome visitors and assist with group transitions. Shifts are available in two-hour slots for those ages 14 and higher, according to the city and the foundation. Those interested in becoming an ambassador are asked to contact volunteer coordinator Chase Hartmann at [email protected]
Jill Asher, executive director of the Magical Bridge Foundation, thanked city officials for their support in developing a reopening plan that she said will "welcome the community back to play safely at the Magical Bridge Playground." "Please ensure that we can continue to offer you this magical experience by following our new rules to play safe for all to enjoy."