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Stuffed animals ride San Diego roller coaster amid COVID-19

June 4 (UPI) -- A San Diego theme park that has to keep a roller coaster running every day despite the coronavirus lockdown has recruited some unusual passengers immune to the virus -- stuffed animals.

Belmont Park in Mission Beach said The Giant Dipper roller coaster has been closed to visitors since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it still has to run every day to keep the machinery in good working order.

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Park officials said the maintenance crew grew tired of running the coaster without passengers, so last week they decided to load the 95-year-old ride up with stuffed animals.

The coaster is now running multiple times a day with its cars filled with stuffed animals that formerly served as prizes for the park's games.

"We have to keep the coaster running on a daily basis, so why not have a little fun with it," Steve Thomas, the park's general manager, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "People are loving it. We've seen tons of videos and pictures that people have been posting online."

Thomas said some of the stuffed animals might remain as social distancing buffers once the park reopens.

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