As COVID-19 continues to spread across our nation and the world, climbing gyms worldwide are shutting their doors. It’s not surprising. The virus lives on surfaces for up to three days. Pinching plastic at a gym isn’t far off from shaking hands with everyone who has climbed there in the past three days. There are few commercial establishments more well-poised to spread a virus. These closures are more widespread than mere gyms, however. The climbing wall at your local playground (yes, yours) has also shut down, and it’s patrons aren’t happy.
The impact of this closure on the local community can’t be overstated, so Rock & Ice headed out to pound the pavement and talk to those impacted directly (from six feet away, of course).
Eight-year-old Tessa Lovvorn, who attends the elementary school down the street and has subsisted on Kraft Mac-n-Cheese and lollipops since her school closed two weeks ago, was up in arms about the closure. While the holds on the wall haven’t been updated since it’s construction over a decade ago, Lovvorn values the route’s timeless appeal. “Except for that squiggly blue [hold] that my little sister put her booger on last summer, they’re all super, super fun to grab,” she said. “I like to jump off the top, too. Once I took my mom’s umbrella and jumped off the top like a parachute.”
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Local Little League pitcher Alex Allen, 12, scoffed at the wall’s intended purpose, but was impacted regardless. “I don’t climb on that thing,” he snapped. “I’m practically a teenager, Mister. I’m in 7th grade. I kissed a girl once, okay? But my friends and I hide behind it to smoke my older brother’s vape. It’s like basically the only place we can go, and now it’s closed.”
While the closure is confirmed, it’s unclear at this time where the order to close the wall came from. Sources simultaneously indicated the neighborhood homeowners association, city and county regulations, socialists, and the elderly woman with the lazy eye who lives across the street. “She’s a witch,” noted Lovvorn. “Seriously. She has a wart on her face and everything. She definitely closed the wall.” School bully Ryan Fisher, 9, added that the wall’s closure severely impacted one of his pastimes. “I make nerds lick the bird poop off that wall,” he said. “It’s the funnest thing to do around here besides Call of Duty.” He proceeded to open and close a butterfly knife menacingly as I walked away.
Even the neighborhood weed dealer, Kevin Hawkins, 24, is experiencing a decline in business as a result of the closure. “I normally post up on this bench in the park across from the playground,” he said, “and my customers know where to find me. It’s the perfect cover, because I mostly sell to stressed out soccer moms. But now there’s no kids playing on the climbing wall, no families here at all. It’s just me out here sitting on this bench like some freakin’ weirdo. I’ve only sold two grams in the last week!”
As with most of our nation’s gyms, it remains unclear when the wall will reopen. The old woman with the lazy eye could not be reached for comment, but city ordinances state March 31st, tentatively. In the meantime, concerned parties can help by supporting Hawkins marijuana industry. Six-year-old Houston Howie, who has been using the rock wall to train to “become a 007 superspy ninja someday” is also looking for a new training wall. He is offering half his deck of Pokémon cards and a packet of Fun-Dip. Interested parties should phone him via the can attached to a string sitting beside the playground slide.