CHICAGO — The opening ceremonies for the Chicago Special Olympics were held Thursday at Soldier Field.

Even the most dreary day did not stop the hardworking competitors from dancing and smiling their way into the stadium.

“This is our favorite event of the year. It’s the biggest event we have in Chicago. We have competitors year-round, but this is the one they think about all year round,” said Xochitl Rodriguez, special recreation coordinator.

The athletes come from dozens of schools and park districts from across the city, and are hoping to win Gold when the games begin.

Thursday marks the first spring opening games since before the start of the pandemic.

The games officially kick off May 9 through May 11.