October 20, 2021

Keeping occupied

Local residents find ways to pass time amid coronavirus

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Ellen Paterson walks down Main Street in Homer Saturday. With public entertainment venues closed due to coronavirus restrictions, Cortland County residents have used walking as a way to get out of the house.

Joan Lowie has been searching for ways to keep herself occupied and entertained during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s tough,” she said Saturday. “We like to get out and about a lot. But you’ve got to do what the right thing, which is stay close to home or get out like this when there’s no one around and walk.”

Closed entertainment venues like movies and malls have caused people like Lowie to limit leaving the house for exercise as their only means of entertainment.

However, the Cortland County Convention and Visitors Bureau has worked to address this lack of entertainment options by creating a version of Bingo meant to support local businesses, according to Meghan Lawton, the bureau’s executive director.

The game, which has game boards posted on the bureau’s social media accounts and on the Experience Cortland website, has different challenges to complete that allow people to explore Cortland County locations while maintaining coronavirus etiquette, including washing hands and getting take out or delivery rather than sit in a restaurant.

Players are supposed to complete all tasks and take a picture using the @experiencecortland tag after completion, Lawton said in an email.

“This bingo game was a way for us to encourage support of our local businesses, be they open or not at this time, and allow our friends and neighbors the opportunity to have a little fun as best they can in the current climate,” she said.

The first 20 players who complete all tasks and tag pictures of themselves doing so will win an Experience Cortland campfire mug.

Lawton said the bureau has created an online list of restaurants that offer takeout and or delivery services to support local businesses.

Virtual tours, including hikes through parks and trails, will also be uploaded for people to explore the county inside their homes.

“This is an unprecedented time in our history and we are going to continue to support this county we love as best we can,” Lawton said.

Still, for Ellen and Michael Paterson, weekends meant going for walks.

“There isn’t really much you can do,” Ellen Paterson said.

The couple, who were going to the post office in Homer, have mostly just been staying inside watching TV and movies, she said.

Beyond just the weekends, walking has been a regular part of their daily routine.

“We try and get out and get moving every day, even when the weather is kind of stinko like today,” Ellen Paterson said about Saturday’s rain.

She said she and her husband didn’t have any other plans for how they would occupy their time beyond what they’ve already done.

“I think we’re just going to stick with this and try and keep our distance and do what we’re supposed to do to prevent things from going any further,” Ellen Paterson said.