Piedmont Park, other metro parks crowded after shelter-in-place order expires for most

ATLANTA — With stay-at-home orders ending for all but the most medically fragile and the elderly, people across the metro Atlanta area headed outside.

On Sunday, huge crowds gathered to enjoy the beautiful weather for a second day after the Blue Angles/Thunderbirds flyover.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines are clear, saying people should avoid crowded parks and maintain social distancing -- but that’s clearly not happening. Crowds at Piedmont Park were so large during Saturday’s flyover that the park was one of the top trending topics on Twitter.

[Wild video shows huge crowds gathered to do donuts, set off fireworks on empty streets]

The CDC has also recommended people not use park playgrounds and not go to a public park if they are sick.

Channel 2′s Audrey Washington was in Midtown, where she talked to one woman who urged people not to underestimate the danger.

Attorney Leroya Jennings lost her father to the coronavirus and then got sick herself. Jennings said she is speaking out because she wants to remind people to be smart and keep a safe distance.

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“I think people don’t have the proper perspective, and they’re thinking that it can’t happen to them," Jennings said. "I saw my dad before the month of April and he was just fine, and I lost him in 10 days. So some of us have not realized how serious this is.”

Jennings said she thinks she got sick after caring for her father.

“This virus has layers," Jennings said. "So many layers to it. It impacts everything.”

Crowds gathered at other metro Atlanta parks too on Sunday.

Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen talked to people in Gwinnett County who were out enjoying Little Mulberry Park in Dacula.

Some people are headed back to work Monday and told Petersen they didn't want a perfect Sunday to go to waste.

Carolin Powell said she has already noticed a big difference at the park.

“There are a lot more people out here now than used to come out here, because I got here about 10 o’clock and the parking lot was full,” Powell said.

Many places that for weeks had few visitors are starting to see crowds fill back in.

Matt McNeese said he thinks it's about time.

"I don't think there's a concern anymore," McNeese said. "I think it has been beaten into everybody's head to use proper hygiene. It's important to get the economy reopen and get everybody out and about."

Petersen saw families having picnics even though the pavilions don't have any picnic tables. The playground at the park is still closed. Some joggers and walkers wore masks and some didn't.

"I don't wear a mask and I feel very comfortable without it," Powell said. "Especially being outdoors."

“I understand it’s a serious illness,” Dwight Powell said. “But I think if people take precautions, they’ll be fine.”