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CHICAGO – Beaches reopened in Chicago this weekend after more than a year and city dwellers took full advantage.

Chicago’s 22 beaches were originally slated to reopen on Friday for the first time since 2019, but gloomy weather and heavy rains temporarily halted those plans. Mother Nature finally decided to cooperate Sunday for the unofficial start of the summer.

“It’s such a beautiful day, listening to this water,” said Mirria Lathan. “The glistening. Hearing the birds. It’s just wonderful.”

After a yearlong-plus wait, several say they were eager to get outside and into the water.

“Since we’ve been through so much last year, I didn’t get a chance to enjoy this water, this lake, or the sunshine,” Lathan added.

Beach-goers found ways to enjoy the sun, with many hitting the park for tennis and exercise. Even Chicago’s furry friends were out and about enjoying the outdoors.

“Just being outside in general is a literal breath of fresh air,” said Mariah Lung.

Locals returned to city beaches, as they reopened for the first time since September 2019. And while it may not be bathing suit weather just yet, kids still found plenty of fun under the sun.

“It’s just so nice to be out in the sun, and [kids] were like ‘can we put our toes in the sand, we want to feel the sand,’ and that’s why we walked over,” Lung said.

Lingering still is the threat of the coronavirus. Locals hope beach-goers will do their part to help prevent the spread of the disease.

“Being in healthcare and working with COVID patients as a med student in the hospital, seeing what actually was going on, this is pretty much what we all wanted,” said medical student Anosh Khan, who has dealt with the coronavirus firsthand.

While city leaders remain optimistic that Chicago can reopen fully this summer, health official still urges residents to take baby steps in the push to resume pre-pandemic life.

“Looking at this,” Khan laughed, “I’m really hopeful that God is showing some mercy.”