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A Glimmer Of Normalcy As Customers Return To Businesses And Venues Large And Small

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This first weekend of May was a first crack at normalcy for many businesses welcoming back customers – from small businesses to massive operators such as Navy Pier and Arlington Park racetrack. CBS 2's Chris Tye reports.

Video Transcript

[AUDIO LOGO]

- This first weekend of May is a first crack at normalcy for many businesses, welcoming back customers from small merchants to massive operators like Navy Pier in Arlington racetrack. CBS 2's Chris Tye is live at Navy Pier where improving weather and an improving COVID trend line is an encouraging blend as many pandemic restrictions disappear, Chris.

CHRIS TYE: Jim, over these last 15 months, we have covered pandemic and a desolate Chicago. It is desolate no more. When you add this flawless weather, the relaxation of rules, the gates opening here at places like Navy Pier, normalcy has never felt so good. The wheel is moving again and so is Chicago's economic engine for the city's big entities--

- Four plates, OK.

CHRIS TYE: --and smaller ones.

- Barbecue rib tips. We have steam cabbage.

CHRIS TYE: Life's menu has served Georgia Utendahl 50 years of challenges, from nurse's assistant to the GM factory floor. But keeping her Englewood Soul Food eatery afloat during pandemic--

- Tougher than I've ever had in my life.

CHRIS TYE: With the help of the Englewood Community Development Corporation, today the 76-year-old is celebrating the grand reopening of Georgia's Soul Food. While she doesn't feel completely out of the woods, she's confident things are improving.

- And I have to believe that I invested my life savings in here. So I have no choice but to believe it's going to get better.

CHRIS TYE: Around Chicago, things are getting better. One year ago today, music venue Ravinia announced its summer series of concerts would be scrapped because of pandemic. This year's summer music series will be back, schedule announced Thursday. Also one year ago this weekend, Arlington Racetrack was silent.

Not only did pandemic restrictions preclude visitors, it forced the Kentucky Derby weekend to slide until fall. This derby day it's a sell out at the park that does still have limited capacity.

- It's not over. This is the beginning.

CHRIS TYE: Small signs of normalcy, but still a long way to go before taking that deep breath and putting pandemic in the rearview mirror.

- We still have a problem. But I feel that I'm going to make it. Every day I tell myself I'm going to make it.

CHRIS TYE: Georgia says in her 50 years of professional life, it has never been more important for a community to come together to help places like her. She said she's counting on her neighbors to come out and those who aren't even in the Englewood neighborhood to help support her and businesses like her. Live at Navy Pier where the fireworks are back at 9 o'clock tonight, Chris Tye, CBS 2 News.

- Encouraging indeed. Chris, thank you.