LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Even during a pandemic, it just wouldn't be fall without a trip to the pumpkin patch. But for families, it's hard to keep track of which activities are safe and which ones aren't. So, 13 Action News went to a couple of local pumpkin patches to see how safe they really are.
Fall is, by far, the busiest time of the year at Gilcrease Orchard, and this year the lines are longer than ever.
"It’s very busy, busier than normal," said Mark Ruben, the director of Gilcrease.
Between the fresh produce and pumpkins, there's plenty for people to pick.
"Because we are outside and we have 60 acres, you can spread out pretty far. The pumpkin patch, as you can see, it’s really big," said Ruben.
And this year, that's the big draw.
Ruben says, for the families he sees, it's as much about getting out of the house as it is about enjoying some socially distanced doughnuts and apple cider.
"I think a lot of people are looking for a reason to get out and into nature and so this is the spot they come," said Ruben.
Right now Gilcrease is selling all food orders to-go, and just about the only time guests are allowed to take off their masks is when they're eating donuts.
Those are just a couple of the changes you'll notice at Gilcrease this year because of COVID-19.
"We usually have wagon rides in the fall, but we don’t this year. This year, we just have the picking. Because you have to sit so close together, we don’t do that. We don’t have the kids running back-and-forth in the straw maze either," said Ruben.
Similar rules are in place at other pumpkin patches throughout the valley, but that doesn't always mean they're being enforced.
"If you don’t have people social distancing, if you don’t have people wearing a mask, it does complicate the issue a bit," said Dr. Christina Madison, an associate professor at Roseman University College of Health Sciences.
Dr. Madison recently took her two young kids to a Las Vegas pumpkin patch and what she saw didn't sit well with her.
"There wasn’t anybody really regulating the space. The number of people, as well as the routine mask-wearing, that was a little bit of a concern," said Dr. Madison.
She says you're far more likely to catch COVID-19 from another person, as opposed to a frequently touched surface, like a pumpkin at a pumpkin patch.
But, if we want to get back to some sense of normalcy soon, she says it's on all of us to follow the rules.
At the top of the list, she says wearing a mask in public places and staying away from others whenever possible are the two best ways to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"When we all take our own personal responsibility for decreasing the risk of transmission, we can all go out and have a good time with our families and that’s really just what people want to do," said Dr. Madison.
Pumpkin patches are seasonal, so they're only temporary.
Gilcrease Orchard is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. But, the Orchard will only be open through October 31, when it will close for the winter months.
If you'd like to learn more, click this link.