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Global pandemic & closed river doesn’t scare some from enjoying Memorial Day outdoors

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WEEK) - The 'unofficial' summer kickoff came and went over Memorial Day Weekend. It was different for several reasons. The COVID-19 pandemic means 'Stay at Home' orders are still in place, causing social distancing rules for boating, fishing, cookouts, and other gatherings. On top of that, the 7th highest water levels ever recorded in Peoria led to the closing of the Illinois River from Lacon to Kingston Mines.

But with everything going on, some folks still found a way to get outside and enjoy the nice weather, even if it meant going against the Governor's wishes.

Several groups were out fishing in East Peoria and Pekin Monday, including a trio from Peoria who said they first hit the water at 9:00 am. "We're just out here fishing, letting the good old mullet flap in the wind. Catching some rays. Think I caught more of a sunburn than i did fish, but i think that's just part of life," laughed Matthew Hiatt as he held up two catfish from the days catch.

But compared to a normal Memorial Day, he said it's been quiet. "We've seen a few people out, but not too many though.[..] way less people than i figured. Especially with it being memorial day," he explained.

Hiatt thinks even though everyone doesn't agree with how the COVID-19 pandemic has been handled, it's had a definite impact on the low numbers of people out enjoying the sun on Monday. "I think it has everything to do with it to be honest with you."

Others took advantage of the holiday to teach their kids how to fish. One family in East Peoria fishing together for the first time. And in Pekin, families casting their line between sunshine and rain showers.

But one thing is for certain, this Memorial Day will be remembered, just like the fallen soldiers who made it all possible.

Kyle Beachy

Kyle Beachy is a Multimedia Journalist for 25 News and Heart of Illinois. Born and raised in Kokomo, Indiana, he attended Indiana Wesleyan University where he studied Education and played baseball. He comes to us from Columbus, Ohio where he received a Master’s Degree from The Ohio State University.

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