After two long years of fatigue from COVID-19, attendees at an Easter event in Oak Park say they are grateful for the opportunity to gather again.
OAK PARK, California — For many people, it’s the first fully vaccinated Easter weekend.
Around this time last year, people were looking for their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which was in high demand.
Now, 75.1% of Californians age 5 and older are fully vaccinated as of April 15, meaning holiday gatherings are back in full force.
Hundreds of people gathered in Oak Park’s Fourth Avenue Park for an Easter celebration and egg hunt on Saturday.
Many of them told ABC10 that the event was particularly meaningful after two long years of the pandemic, which Sacramento grandmother Debra Arbet described as depressing and sobering.
“I just had to come out and see the kids and bring my granddaughter,” Arbet said. “This event means the kids can enjoy each other again and come out of the sobriety they’ve been in for so long.”
Penelope Amadali lives in Oak Park and also attended Saturday’s event at Fourth Avenue Park.
“I represent the classroom, so I’ve been interacting all the time and observing the impact on the students,” Amadali said. “It’s a very good demonstration that we need each other.”
Ten-year-old Anmol Sidhu said he was sad during the pandemic that he couldn’t play with his friends.
“It feels really good that we can spend time together again,” he said at the event.
Stephanie Thompson, the co-chair of the Community Wellness Forumis an organizer of this Easter in the Park event.
“Our whole goal is to really bring the family back and bring some peace back. We haven’t had that for a long time,” Thompson said. “This is our 11th year doing this and COVID hasn’t stopped us. We’re still in the pandemic, we realize that, but it’s a little freer right now.”
Health professionals like Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House coordinator for COVID-19 responses, agree that common sense matters.
“We now know how to gather safely. If you see someone at high risk, get tested beforehand,” said Dr. yeah
There’s something special in the air this Easter weekend, whether anyone considers themselves a believer or not—a resurrection of hope and fellowship.
“Does it feel normal? Actually yes,” Thompson said, adding that the event organizers are providing masks and hand sanitizer for event attendees and have put a lot of thought and discussion into organizing this year’s event.
Many other Easter events take place this weekend, including a sunrise service takes place Sunday mornings at 6:30 a.m. in the Rose Garden of McKinley Park in East Sacramento. It is organized by The Table at Central United Methodist Church.
A list of other events can be found HERE.