CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Many families are continuing their traditions of camping at Labonte Park this weekend after the park was closed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Corpus Christi Parks and Recreation Department said usually it has 120 camping sites available at the park, but those have been reduced to about 70 because of social distancing. Sixty-four of those spots already have been reserved.
The department is advising people to wear masks and social distance when they are around strangers.
Corpus Christi resident Tony Uballe Sr. said he and his family have been camping for Easter at Labonte Park since the late 1960s, after Hazel Bazemore Park flooded one year when he was a kid.
COVID-19 has hit home for his family, he said, because two of his brothers died this last year because of the novel coronavirus.
“It makes us stronger," he said. "And we call ourselves 'Uballe Strong.' ”
Faith Sanchez,14, also lives in Corpus Christi and said she’s not worried about COVID-19 this weekend, saying she doesn’t let it restrict her daily activities.
She said she usually doesn’t come to Labonte Park, but that she wanted to do something different this weekend to distract herself from her family's loss, too.
After her uncle died this past year, she said it’s important to her to spend time enjoying and exploring the park and its wildlife with her family.
“Even though they're not here . . . just thinking about them while you're here so they can actually enjoy it with you,” she said.
Traditions motivate many of the families camping at Labonte Park on Friday. Christopher De La Cruz, Isabellia Vera, and Roland Olivarez, who are all related, said their grandma used to come to the park, and that it's important to them to keep her tradition alive and to experience some of the same memories she made as a kid.
“She wants us to be like (her) when she was small, paying outside in the outdoors -- tag, swimming -- I want to go swimming,” Olivarez said.