Many fans practice social distancing, masking at Trash Pandas block party

The event was first of a two-night celebration at Toyota Field in Madison.

Posted: Jul 3, 2020 10:35 PM
Updated: Jul 3, 2020 10:46 PM

Despite the heat and humidity, hundreds turned out to get a chance to catch some baseball, some music and a fireworks show Friday night. 

The Trash Pandas weren't the ones taking the field though. Rather it was a game pitting two American Legion baseball teams against each other: the Mambas and the Mayhem.

A Toyota Field employee checks the temperature of a child as he and his family prepared to enter the stadium for the Trash Pandas' block party on Friday, July 3, 2020. A Toyota Field employee checks the temperature of a child as he and his family prepared to enter the stadium for the Trash Pandas' block party on Friday, July 3, 2020.

Friday was also the first chance Antonio Beath got to call a game in the stadium. 

"We should've been in it three months ago, but unfortunately we're not. But a late start is better than no start. So I'm really excited to get with it," Beath said before the game began.

Stadium officials said about 900 tickets were sold to the block party when they opened up the gates at 5 o'clock. Everyone who came into Toyota Field received a temperature check and were encouraged to wear face masks.

All of the employees were masked as were Max Dunkerley and his family.

"My whole family is wearing masks, we're going to try and keep distant from everybody else. I'm also traveling with hand sanitizer to be extra safe," Dunkerley said.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise across the state and in north Alabama, Trash Pandas General Manager Garrett Fahrmann said they discussed mandating masks Friday night, but decided it was best to wait for the county.

"As this week kind of progressed, we definitely were considering that," Fahrmann said. "I know that there's something put in place, at least on paper right now, that's...the whole county may be required to put it on in public. When that takes place, then absolutely we'll be doing that. But right now, it's a strong recommendation. But right now its just...we can't really enforce that right now."

Couple Ashli Reed and Tyler Jacobs said they recently moved from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Madison County and wanted to check out the new stadium Friday night. Reed said they kept masks with them in their pockets in case they felt things were too crowded, but she said they felt that things early on in the evening were spaced far enough apart that they could safely social distance.

"It's that balancing act. You try to distance yourself, but you've got to kind of live your life a little," Reed said.

With Independence Day on Saturday, some at Toyota Field said they wanted to come out Friday to get a taste of the fireworks with a crowd so that they could do something a little more low key the next day.

"We can still have a little bit of fun, but at the same time get out and live a little bit in these trying times," Dunkerley said.

Gates open for the "Trash Pandas 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular!" at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

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