Families Get Out, Do More to Celebrate First Mother’s Day Out of Pandemic

The Duluth Children's Museum Pop-Up Play Place and the Lake Superior Zoo were busy with families.

DULUTH, Minn.- The Northland was busy this Mother’s Day, coming out the tail-end of the pandemic. After more traditional brunches, some families who reunited for the day decided this year was more special and spent time doing other activities.

“We went out to lunch, and then we’re coming here to play with their friends,” said Stacy Cozzi at the Duluth Children’s Museum’s Pop-Up Play Place.

The sounds of little kids playing and laughing flowed through the temporary space on Superior Street in Downtown Duluth.

The pop-up opened there in April while its main location in Lincoln Park undergoes construction, “for this sorta spring tourist traffic and a way to provide some space,” President and CEO Cameron Kruger said.

The main building is set to re-open in June.

While families like Cozzi’s have been coming every week, this play-day was a little more special on Mother’s Day.

“Kids and parents are coming in, they’re decorating pots with their moms and then putting plants inside,” said Kruger.

“[We] do a lot of gardening programming as part of our normal experience and so this is just another way that we get kids digging in the dirt and get ready for spring here, but also honor those moms out there,” he said.

Of course toddlers don’t sit still for long — many ditched the planting for the playground and other toys.

Cozzi was with her family and others at the sandbox. “That is my daughter, Sam and these are my two grandbabies Paisley and Piper,” she said.

For these moms and grandmas, any quality time with their kids is worth it.  “I love it,” said Cozzi. “We, we’ve always been close and I like being close and doing as much with them as I can.”

“You never know, y’know? Like with COVID, couldn’t see them forever so I like spending every second that I can with them,” she said.

Meanwhile over at the Lake Superior Zoo Sunday, the commotion came not from the animals, but from a craft show in the parking lot.

“We’ve got photographers, we’ve got painters, we’ve got some different sewing, we have a tie-dye artist,” said Special Events Coordinator Elizabeth Dixon, naming off the 30 vendors.

Organizers hoped to provide an activity for families — hopefully not scampering for a last minute Mother’s Day gift — but looking to treat mom to something different outdoors.

“We thought that a craft show could be a fun thing for moms to come to, people to bring their moms, it’s just kind of a nice, low-key event that everybody can come and check out all the stuff,” said Dixon.

More than 400 people checked it out, and some moms like LeeAnn Betzler say it was even more of a gift to bring their families somewhere outdoors and distanced, worrying less about COVID.

“I think actually coming and having a place to come and look at some crafts and some ‘gift-y’ things, make it seem a little more like normal,” Betzler said.

Anyone who spent at least $50 at the craft show got a free ticket to the zoo, which Dixon said was just as busy with roughly a thousand people coming through. “I think that this is just a great example of how the rest of the summer’s gonna go for us.”

The Zoo was filled with families large and small, some with multiple generations. “We are having time with our daughter and granddaughter,” said Susan Merchant.

For Merchant’s family checking out the Bears and Cougars, it was the first Mother’s Day grandma, mom, and daughter could be together in a year.

“I moved out to Colorado recently so I couldn’t even travel last year,” Susan’s daughter, Sabrina Featherly said. “So it’s nice to be able to travel back and see family.”

Like many others out on Mother’s Day, Susan says if the pandemic has taught her anything, it’s that it doesn’t matter what they’re doing as long as they’re together.

“My mom has passed and gone,” she said. “That time is limited, and it’s really important to have those moments, especially with her being so far away to be able to as a family, be a unit and enjoy each other, cause we don’t get to do that every day.”

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