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‘Quirky’ rules govern Santa Fe Plaza

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

In normal times, the Plaza in Santa Fe is a place to congregate, people watch, browse jewelry, enjoy some lunch and maybe even listen to some music.

In today’s pandemic world, all of that has changed.

Evan Waldrop, 13, sits on a bench on the Plaza in Santa Fe with his skateboard and bike. Riding either is not allowed on the Plaza. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

It is still the place the decidedly fewer tourists head first, many sans masks.

But starting this week, signs plastered across the Plaza will remind visitors and locals alike that being out and about without a mask is not acceptable and subject to citation.

“Safety first,” the signs read. “Face coverings required. Avoid a fine & help keep others safe.”

It includes an outline of a person wearing a mask to give it universal meaning for those who do not read English, said John Muñoz, director of the city parks and recreation department.

Santa Fe police will give a written warning for a first offense. Violators are subject to a $50 fine for each subsequent violation.

It’s nothing new when it comes to the peculiarity of Plaza rules.

Gerald Marchewka write poems for tips on a bench on the Santa Fe Plaza. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

As a matter of fact, the music you might hear there probably sounds different than it did a few months ago.

“There are some quirky rules,” Muñoz admitted. “For instance, it’s OK to have musicians on the Plaza. Guitar players or violin players, but we’ve discouraged singers or trumpets because of the droplets. As far as the logic goes, vocal singers or trumpet players will spew a good number of droplets into the air and that poses more of a danger than violinist or guitar players.”

Even before the virus, the Plaza was not exactly a welcoming place for those looking to actively recreate.

Skateboards, bicycles and yes, even unicycles were prohibited on the Plaza.

Furthermore, forget about chucking a Frisbee or tossing a football because it is not allowed to “project, throw, kick or strike any type of recreational object,” according to the city code.

Since it is outside, perhaps a puff on a cigarette, cigar or pipe might be in order. No sir. Those, along with “any other similar device that produces smoke and/or odor within the Plaza Park,” is prohibited.

“That’s specifically Plaza-related,” Muñoz said. “Historically, it’s been densely populated.”

Fines for these transgressions are a warning for a first offense, $50 fine for the second offense and $100 for the third offense.

Now luckily, there is one bit of good news when it comes to the Plaza.

The knocking around of a hacky sack is permitted, provided you are in the proper place.

“The playing of hacky sack in the Plaza Park shall not be prohibited in the southeast grassed quadrant of the Plaza Park as long as due care for the safety of the public is exercised,” according to the city code. “The playing of hacky sack shall not take place on walkways in the Plaza Park.”

And that’s simply because it’s easier to control the sack, Muñoz said.

“It’s stationary a little more,” he said. “Safe and enclosed.”