CINCINNATI — A return to the ballpark for Cincinnati Reds fans was also a new experience for most who visited the area near the stadium: the city’s DORA, or designated outdoor refreshment area.
Opening Day was a major test for the new area at The Banks with city leaders, law enforcement and business owners alike urging mask wearing and social distancing.
The number of people following safety standards fluctuated wildly throughout the day, with many still choosing to forego masks, but the majority of the crowd seemed happy to enjoy the first game with a sense of hope for the days to come.
“It was that first sense of normalcy we felt in the city,” Reds fan Marshall Long said.
He ventured to The Banks to explore the bars and restaurants in the DORA.
“It’s a little crowded, which feels a little bit disconcerting, but I mean overall have your mask on and just taking precautions, we feel pretty good,” Reds fan Aimee Long said.
Both had COVID-19 before, and they said the popularity of this outdoor drinking area feels like a turning point as the city maps out its post-pandemic future.
“I have no problem being out here,” Reds fan Heather Gillman said. “I still wear a mask everywhere I go.”
A teacher who’s been vaccinated, Gillman wore a mask and came ready to celebrate the day regardless of those around her.
“I don’t necessarily know if it’s the smartest thing for people not to have a mask on, but each person has their own choice to make,” Gillman said.
Regardless of the weather and the rules of the pandemic, Reds fans embraced the chance to make this Opening Day their own.
“It was so fun and it was freezing cold and it was snowing this morning and snowing a little bit while we were here, but it was still just so awesome to see people in the game again,” Reds fan Ashley Minnick said.
Despite the controversy, most of the people we spoke to hope the DORA stays in place so Reds fans can enjoy it responsibly this summer and for seasons to come.
“I think we can do it and have safe Reds games, so I think it can be really fun this summer,” Aimee Long said.