‘Refreshing to see people out and about’: Winnipeggers flock to The Forks during provincewide shutdowns

Ciara Mulroy was at The Forks with one thing on her mind on an unusually warm January afternoon.

“I was very excited to get here because I’m trying out my new skates,” she said on Sunday. “I want to see how long I can go without falling on the river.”

Ciara and her younger sister were among dozens of people who made their way to the iconic river trail on the weekend, which had its first section of the season — The Forks Port Rink — open this week.

The temperature hit zero degrees on Sunday, marking a departure from the usual high of just below -13 C.

And with current COVID-19 restrictions in Manitoba shutting down non-essential businesses and barring most indoor gatherings, many have begun spending more time outside.

Ciara donned a pink face mask to match her parka and helmet. She said she thinks as long as people keep their distance and wear masks, outdoor activities like hitting the ice are safe ways to spend time.

Ron Thiessen said he agrees, and is glad there are more outdoor activities available for people sick of staying in during the pandemic.

Ron Thiessen said he’s been happy to see more people spending time outdoors, including in Manitoba’s many parks. (Marouane Refak/CBC)

“We can stay at home, but we can also be outside enjoying the beautiful weather,” said Thiessen, who also headed down to The Forks.

“It’s fabulous to be out here today enjoying the beautiful, sunny day. It’s nice. It’s very refreshing to see people out and about in a relatively safe, COVID-friendly environment.”

He said he’s also been happy to see more people making use of Manitoba’s many parks during the pandemic.

“They’re beautiful places,” he said.

Thiessen said he’s crossing his fingers that ice conditions are good enough this winter for the river trail to extend up near where he lives.

Bill and Shelley Moore were also at The Forks.

Bill and Shelley Moore said they’re excited for more of the river trail at The Forks to open for skating this winter. (Marouane Refak/CBC)

They weren’t skating together like they usually do, since Shelley needed to get hers sharpened — but they too hope more of the river trail will open soon.

“It’s a wonderful extension of The Forks,” Shelley said. “I just like being outside and being around people…. It’s beautiful.”