By Ann Frances –
By executive order, everyone in the city of Irvine must wear a mask when in a public space. The mandate is to stem the spread of COVID-19. Today, workers masked the Great Park Balloon. A blue face covering that appears to measure roughly 30 feet by 60 feet, complete with ear loops, now rests just below the balloon’s summertime sunglasses.
The balloon mask is a project of FivePoint, developer of the Great Park and the Great Park Neighborhoods, and the official sponsor of the Great Park Balloon since October 2019. Last year, in an effort to enable visitors to the park to ride the balloon for free, and to save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in operating and maintenance expenses, FivePoint became the corporate sponsor of the balloon.
Last month the land developer donated one million masks to the city of Irvine. Shortly after receiving the donation of masks, 100,000 were immediately provided to the Irvine Unified School District to help protect students, teachers and staff as the district prepares for the new school year ahead. Another beneficiary of the mask give-away is Irvine’s senior population. The free masks were distributed through the city’s Meals on Wheels program, and to assisted-living facilities. Childcare centers and children’s camps will also receive masks through the Irvine Child Care Project.
Ironically, the huge masked balloon looms over both the empty soccer fields and the COVID-19 testing center, located in Parking Lot 6. A second mask on the other side of the balloon that overlooks the now-motionless carousel is also being placed.
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