CLEVELAND — The city of Cleveland embraced a new, yet familiar, era with open arms Friday.
Progressive Field held its first game at full capacity since pandemic restrictions were put in place, and the curtain rose for the first time in over year at Playhouse Square.
Downtown, the sights and sounds loomed next to excitement. The heart of the city came alive again.
"We've been building up for this moment," Curtis Danburg, vice president of communications for the Cleveland Indians, told 3News. "We are hoping for mid-[20,000] tonight, mid-twenties tomorrow."
For the team, prepping for a packed stadium was top of mind.
"There have really been a lot of moving parts," Danburg said. "It's been challenging getting seasonal workers and everybody in the service industry."
Businesses around the block took in dozens more, too.
"We are standing right here, the stadium is right there. We are not more than a two-minute walk," Thirsty Parrot manager Rachel Kolis said before Friday night's game. "It only 5:15; the game is at 7. If this is where we are now, this place is going to fill up."
Seats at the stadium weren't the only seats that filled fast: For the first time in over a year, Playhouse Square illuminated for shows.
"I'm so excited to see the curtain rise," Anne Fleming gushed.
"It's so good to smell back Playhouse Square and be back and see everything," Gina Ali added.
"We are looking forward into getting back into the groove of being down here all the time again," Rebecca Fishman remarked.
The big night put smiles on people's faces, making life not just feel new again, but normal too.
"It's just the feeling of seeing Cleveland come back to life," Fleming said.
Kolis said staff stuck it out with the restaurant during the pandemic, adding that they'll be able to handle the crowd. Over at Progressive Field, the Indians are still hiring and looking for more summertime employees. For how to apply, click here.