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Pride of the Wapsi opens corn maze with tribute to front line workers

Pride of the Wapsi added extra hand sanitizing stations throughout the park in 2020. Staff members also wipe down the seats for the tractor rides after each use.

LONG GROVE, Iowa — The Pride of the Wapsi pumpkin patch looks a little different in 2020.

"I mean everything’s been a little different this year," said Cody Oberlander.

Oberlander brought his children to Pride of the Wapsi again this year, even amid changes from years past.

"We wanted pumpkins," Oberlander said. "They have a blast on the slides, looking at the goats, the animals. It’s fun family times."

Those are some of the yearly favorites. But other attractions were closed for the season due to COVID-19.

"The high touch areas like the jumping pillows we’ve had to back away from because we physically can't just clean those in between," said Pat Dierickx, one of the owners of Pride of the Wapsi.

Dierickx added extra hand sanitizing stations throughout the park. Staff members also wipe down the seats for the tractor rides after each use.

"We’re in an outdoor venue, so that gives us a unique opportunity to minimize the transfer of germs, while at the same time we have to recognize that the consumer has to do their part," Dierickx said.

This year's corn maze design pays tribute to front line workers, but the idea did not come from the onset of COVID-19.

"On January 4th, we had a house fire and we were displaced from our home," Dierickx said. "I made the phone call to the fire department, and 8 minutes, two fire departments were on our yard, ten minutes a third department. We had 50 firemen taking care of our stuff."

The corn maze theme is centered around the fire departments, and expanded to other front line industries, like teachers, doctors and grocery store workers after COVID-19 started spreading in the U.S., Dierickx said.

That maze paid tribute to those who provided a service so Pride of the Wapsi could provide theirs. 

Pride of the Wapsi has new hours for 2020. They are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m Thursday though Sunday until at least October 25th.