Teresa Stoffel, creator of Winter Texan Activities Group on Facebook hosted a meeting Saturday, September 19, with Winter Texan park activity directors, managers, and Wintertainers™. On the agenda were topics of sanitation measures; thinking outside the box for activities and Wintertainers™; what would be needed to implement new types of activities; and to develop a list of Wintertainers™ willing to fill in for those that might feel the need to cancel.
PIVOT was the big word of the meeting. Stoffel said this is a time that Wintertainers™ and activity directors need to pivot their thinking and start thinking outside of the box. Activities should still go on, and can, even though there are restrictions and precautions that need to be taken.
Stoffel said it is especially important for the parks, and others, to be positive about what is to come. Although the Valley has received some negative press, there is not a lot of difference in what other communities are experiencing. People still feel safe here.
“We aren’t any worse off here than they are up north,” said Stoffel as far as numbers and rules. She added she has family all across the country. Everyone is wearing their masks like they should and going about things that they need to do. “We aren’t any different than anywhere else now.”
The ways parks are responding are as varied as the many activity’s Winter Texans enjoy every season.
Some parks are waiting for conditions to continue to improve before deciding to resume activities, how they are going to be held, how often, what practices they need to put in place, etc.
We need to think of setting up activities differently, Stoffel advised. Consider outdoor entertainment and activities, utilize patios or have some covered areas in case of bad weather or to have protection from the sun. Wintertainers™ are having to prepare to do their shows outside as well, she added.
“It’s going to be different. It’s thinking outside of the box,” said Stoffel.
Rusty Rockers’ Lars Nelson and resident of Aladdin Villas said the park has been discussing holding their dances outside or renting tents for outdoor activities.
Stoffel added that some parks have been implementing what restaurants have found works – curbside delivery. Parks can still hold their lunches but provide sack lunches or a curbside delivery instead of having people meet in the dining hall. You still get the great food but can practice social distancing and other guidelines.
Mary Jane Johnson said they are all up for outdoor activities. They have several things planned at her park including a golf cart drive in movie.
“We’re bringing stuff back we haven’t done for many years,” she said. Like Christmas decorating contests, horseshoes, just lots of outdoor things, she added. Her park has eliminated a lot of their bigger activities such as their craft show and flea markets.
At Winter Ranch, Anita Parret King said, they have outdoor activities such as a county fair with a lemonade stand, a rodeo with stick horses, cabbage bowling, pumpkin chunking and other outdoor fair type of activities planned. Other things they have in mind are outdoor yard Yahtzee and Farkle, cooking outside on a grill, and setting up a walk-up window to pick up food.
Stoffel added that, with all activities, sanitizing needs to be a common practice whether it is with Clorox wipes, Lysol, or the new foggers. Keep sanitizer with you, on hand, so you are prepared too.
If you are doing everything you can to stay safe, there should not be too much to worry about, added Stoffel.
Joe Saltel, square dance caller at Tropic Star, said it is too soon to decide how square dances may be impacted.
“As an activity leader, I feel I have the responsibility to stay vigilant, diligent, about … being safe,” added Saltel. “That’s important to me.”
Debbie at Sleepy Valley said in their meeting this week, they decided Wintertainers™ would not be required to wear a mask. Attendees would come in wearing a mask, pick up food with the mask on, but once they were at their seats, they could take masks off. Basically, she said, as soon as they sit down with their group, they can unmask.
“We’re going to put responsibility on our residents, for them to help us with sanitizing things as they come in, cleaning their area. The people that don’t feel comfortable, can stay home. We aren’t cancelling anything,” said Debbie.
Curt James said we all need to make sure we are taking social distancing and sanitizing seriously.
“If everybody takes those guidelines seriously, we should be able to get through this with no issues.”
Several ideas about how to balance seating, the need for social distancing and accommodating small groups were shared. Ideas included setting up chairs in groups, asking groups to arrive together to make it easier to get their seating. Ideas were to set up chairs for couples, groups of up to ten (as current guidelines allow) while allowing for distance between groups and using ushers when entering and exiting to follow social distancing guidelines and keep people from gathering.
Other ideas for social distancing included having craft sale web pages for those that make crafts to sell in the park. These people would normally participate in a craft show at the park but would still be able to sell their goods if they were able to list their items on a page.
Wintertainers™ are expressing a willingness to adapt as well.
Concerning outdoor concerts, Curt James used the example of a trailer concert he performed for Victoria Palms. Going on to express that we must maintain a positive attitude and be creative with new ideas.
One popular idea, since capacity is limited to 50% right now, is to hold split shows. The Wintertainers™ in attendance said they would be open to this solution. The idea is to take one two-hour show and instead perform two separate one to one and a half hour shows with a break in between to dismiss the first audience, sanitize and seat a new audience allowing the Wintertainer™ to still preform for a “full house”.
Every Wintertainer™ is going to be as creative as they can to do it – to entertain.
Stoffel also suggested live shows on Zoom or other sites where viewers can leave tips via Venmo
The main idea is to pivot. “We have to change” our way of thinking about how activities and entertainment must be done. Have a plan, have a goal, Stoffel added.
“We’re going to get there.”
We will see Winter Texans this winter. There will be entertainment. There will be activities. There will be food.
Our Wintertainers™ are booked. Those in attendance only had a few dates open. They will be coming down and with great ideas like these circulating, this promises to be an interesting and entertaining season.
To watch the recorded meeting, visit the Winter Texan Activities Group on Facebook.
Stoffel is planning another meeting for activity directors, businesses, press and Wintertainers™ at 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 17.