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Sonoma County, under smoke-fouled skies Friday, had to absorb the energy of about 70,000 kids and teens who were freed from public schools for the day.

A lot of it spilled out on trampolines, arcade games, a laser tag suite, bowling alleys and other diversions inside the 150,000-square-foot Epicenter Sports and Entertainment on Coffey Lane.

Mackenzie Mexico, a nanny, brought her charge, Alexandra Sebastiani, 11, of Sonoma and two of her friends to the supersized funhouse on a day when health officials said the air was unhealthy to breathe and urged people to stay inside.

“They need to get the energy out and the center’s got tons of opportunities for that,” Mexico said, with the flashing lights and bright sounds of the arcade nearby. “I love it here, too.”

Quinn Mahoney, 10, one of two brothers who attend The Presentation School in Sonoma with Alexandra, said he enjoyed the two-story laser tag arena.

Alexandra said she prefers the more passive XD Dark Ride, a three-D interactive theater experience.

Asked if he missed school, Quinn hesitated a beat and said, “Umm, no.”

Life changed in various ways as smoke and ash from a deadly wildfire 100 miles away in Butte County enveloped Sonoma County for a second straight day.

The sun rose Friday as a dark red disk, and northerly winds carried the acrid smell etched in the public mind as a manifestation of horror and grievous loss.

From kindergarten through college, local schools shut down and canceled sports events. Many workers had an unwanted day off as well, exactly 13 months after the North Bay wildfires that killed 40 people and destroyed nearly 6,200 homes.

Santa Rosa City Manager Sean McGlynn, in consultation with top managers, opted to close most offices, and employees were advised not to come to work, city spokeswoman Adriane Mertens said.

County offices and the courts remained open, but Regional Parks canceled guided hikes and other public programs for the weekend, officials said.

Public libraries were open, and at Northwest Santa Rosa Library there was a morning surge of parents and children coming in and checking out books.

“We were surprised,” said Rocio Linares, a library specialist. “We thought they’d be staying home.”

Movie theaters, as usual, offered shelter in an uncertain storm. Ticket sales were up 500 percent at the Roxy Stadium 14 Cinemas in downtown Santa Rosa, with school out and “The Grinch,” a movie with appeal to all ages, opening.

“Perfect combination,” said Chris Johnson, the general manager.

People turn to movie theaters for relief from physical elements, as well as distraction from the stresses of life, he said.

Loretta Miller of Santa Rosa was waiting outside the theater for her two grandsons, tickets to “The Grinch” in hand.

Miller said she stayed home all day with the windows shut, not walking her dog, as she labored over the paperwork involved in closing out a business of making screen-printed and embroidered items for hospital gift shops. The October 2017 wildfires destroyed her inventory.

She had the day off from work as an aide at Kid Street Learning Center in Santa Rosa.

John Allen, chief operating officer at APM Homes, said Friday was “an optional work day” at the sites where his company is building 70 homes in Coffey Park and three in Fountaingrove.

About 40 of the 100 or so trades workers showed up. Those who did were encouraged to work inside on a day of acknowledged low productivity.

Outside workers were required to wear masks or respirators for protection against tiny smoke particles that can invade the lungs, causing respiratory ailments, asthma and potential heart attacks, with children and seniors most vulnerable.

Coffey Park, where more than 500 homes are under reconstruction, was “like a ghost town” under Friday’s dull light, Allen said.

“It’s like reliving the fire all over again,” he said.

One place folks did not care to be was on the links of the Bennett Valley Golf Course.

About 40 golfers canceled their pre-scheduled tee-offs at the city-owned course, head pro Jim Knego said. If not for about 66 players participating in a retired firefighters tournament, the 6,500-yard course would have been largely vacant.

It takes about 4½ hours to play a round — “a long time on a smoky day,” Knego said.

There was action on the driving range, with many people wearing masks.

Jack Buckhorn, executive director of the North Bay Labor Council, said his son left at 5 a.m. as usual for work as an electrician.

Many construction workers show up regardless of the conditions for simple economic reasons, he said. “You don’t work, you don’t get paid. It’s just that simple.”

The sullen sky in Santa Rosa reminded Buckhorn of the infamously foul air in Los Angeles when he was growing up in the 1960s. “You couldn’t see the San Gabriel Mountains,” he said.

On Friday, the hills of Trione-Annadel State Park were invisible from the third floor of a downtown Santa Rosa office building.

Sonoma County’s premium wine grapes were spared impact from the smoke as the harvest wrapped up earlier in the week, said Karissa Kruse, president of the Sonoma County Winegrowers.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 707-521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @guykovner.

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