WESTFIELD, NJ — Heather Re has a new addition to her resume: online game show contestant.
The Westfield Recreation Department's assistant director and aquatic supervisor was on Facebook last Wednesday, doing an imitation of the popular Netflix show “Nailed It!” with a coworker.
“We were like 'Hey! We could do that ourselves,’” Re said. “It's not going to be the quality of a Netflix show, but we can make it fun and do it ourselves.”
It is just one of the many new tasks Re has taken on, along with creating questions for online trivia, editing and producing videos for the Westfield Recreation Department, which has been forced to go digital due to the coronavirus.
The department typically runs a variety of programs this time of year, ranging from sewing to LEGO classes. But the worldwide pandemic has put these programs on pause, making the department wonder what activities they could provide to a community anxious from the coronavirus.
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“You go on social media and hear everything about the pandemic going on, so [we want] to give some comic relief,” said Lauren Harmer, a recreation events specialist, who was featured in the “Nailed It!” video with Re. “So even though they are stuck at home there are still things you can do to keep your spirits up and relieve the boredom.”
The department has provided content ranging from story time for kids to explanatory homemade craft videos. Re explained that most of the content is created off the cuff, with a litany of technical difficulties along the way, but has been a success, with posts getting thousands of views and online trivia attracting dozens of participants.
Despite the digital additions, though, a lot of the work at the department is business as usual. Re is still planning for the pool to open for the first week of June — people are going to need a place to have fun after all this, Re said.
“We're still doing our everyday jobs plus all of our virtual recreational programming,” Re said. “We've just added more hours to our day.”
But with the uncertainty of the coronavirus, digital could become the new normal.
“We will continue [being digital] if it has to be,” said Don Bogardus, the director of recreation. “Hopefully we can go back to doing things the way we used to, but if it has to continue, it will.”
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