Rodeo Houston and area museums seeing spring break decline as coronavirus concerns grow

Nick Natario Image
Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Rodeo attendance declines due to coronavirus concerns
This year's opening attendance is the lowest in the last five years.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Coronavirus concerns couldn't have come at a worse time for some museums and events that rely on Spring Break attendance.

No school for many families this week, usually means Children's Museum of Houston is a place many of them turn to. The museum offers all kinds of ways for parents to get a break, and their kids to let out their energy.

This year, it's different. The deadly coronavirus has parents thinking about what their kids are touching.

"Washing our hands, and using hand sanitizers and stuff," Valeria Lopez said. "It's just what we got to do. You just can't keep them at home."

To keep guests safe, the museum is doing more cleaning. Despite this, it appears the virus is keeping people away.

"Attendance has been way down," Children's Museum of Houston spokesperson Henry Wau explained. "First weekend of spring break it's been like nothing that it was before. It's shocking, but it's also understandable that people are worried."

They aren't the only ones.

Space Center Houston hopes a new SpaceX Falcon 9 booster exhibit opening this week boosts attendance because the first weekend of spring break had attendance that was 20 percent lower than anticipated.

At RodeoHouston, the addition of several hand washing stations may not be enough. This year's event is the lowest opening attendance for the first six days over the past five years. But things are looking up for rodeo-goers.

"There are many variables that may affect daily attendance, including weather, the entertainer, Spring Break timing and other activities happening on the grounds," said HLSR officials. "Yesterday's total attendance was up by 54%."

"You can't live in a bubble," Mie-lyn Redondo said. "You've got to get out there. As long as you're doing your part to not put your hands in your mouth and your face and cleaning constantly, you should be okay."

There are areas not seeing a spring break decline.

At the Houston Zoo, officials said attendance is on par with last year, which meant guests still found it hard to find a place to park Monday.

"It definitely crossed our mind," Eric Murphy explained. "But we weren't sure how many people would be here for spring break and what not, but there's a lot of people here."

A spring break like no other, but one that parents say they're determined the coronavirus won't ruin.

"We didn't want to make us stop us from enjoying our spring break," Ty Davis said. "It is a concern, but we're being cautious. We have our antibacterial."

The good news for a lot of these places is the spring break bump is extended over more than just one week.

Many districts, including Houston Independent School District start spring break next week.

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