By Marielle Mohs

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — To avoid cabin fever, so many Minnesotans are finding ways to be entertained outside — but rental gear is running low due to high demand.

Hyland Hills in Bloomington says it is currently out of cross-country ski and snowshoe rental equipment, but that could change on a day-to-day basis. Centennial Lakes Ice Rink in Edina chose not to allow skate rentals due to COVID-19.

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Carver County Parks just started their cross-country ski rentals on Jan. 9. Marisa Meleck, recreation instructor with Carver County, says demand is exceeding years past in just the first two days of opening.

“Normally in a day we have about six groups of people, and I would say today and yesterday we’ve had six groups of people within the first 30 minutes,” Meleck said.

Some places are not allowing equipment rentals as a safety precaution during the pandemic, but Meleck says their rental space is open-air, so they can do it safely.

“With our smaller capacity, being in just a house setting, we are really able to have a lot less people in our spaces,” Meleck said. “We have doors open, have more of an open-air situation.”

(credit: CBS)

Dana Johnson felt lucky to find a place with plenty of gear to rent out for cross-country skiing with her friend on Sunday.

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“Six dollars for two hours, it’s great. I haven’t cross-country skied since I was about 10, so it was really fun,” Johnson said.

Julie Erlandsen is regular on the Carver County cross-country ski trails, and has been coming out to trails every winter for decades. She says this is the busiest she’s ever seen it.

“So many people,” Erlandsen said.

She says she’s thankful her dedication to the sport meant she already had the equipment to do it.

“I’m glad I have mine because, yes, I think with all the people who are embracing winter, right, there’s kind of probably a shortage,” Erlandsen said.

Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis is also offering cross country and snowshoe rentals right now, but no skate rentals this season.

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Marielle Mohs