Navy Pier shows off renovated spring, summer attractions

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's time to turn in your winter coats and flip on your sun glasses. With March coming to a close, spring is peeking it's head around the corner.

Navy Pier is one of the most popular places to be during the spring, so ABC 7's Jalyn Henderson took a sneak peek at what the Pier's been up to as they get ready for the season.

"We've undergone a major renovation and the pier now features a collection of dining experiences and retail experiences that are much more reflective of Chicago," Navy Pier President and CEO Marilynn Gardner said.

One of the new dining options is Brown Sugar Bakery, which is locally owned and based on the South-side of Chicago.

"We make cakes from people's childhood," Brown Sugar Bakery Owner, Stephanie Hart said. "The kinds of cakes we make are German chocolate, red velvet, yellow chocolate, we don't play around with fondant and things that make cakes extra pretty. We play with butter, sugar and eggs that make cakes extra tasty."

While you're there, you might even notice some people around you walking around in blue, collared shirts.

"My students are friendly, they're hard workers, they are not judged for their disability but they're judged for their ability and things they can do," Southside Occupational Academy Teacher Sharon Bojan said.

Southside Occupational is a Chicago Public School dedicated to helping 18 to 21 year olds with disabilities transition into the work force. In class, students learn how to manage money, how to take public transportation and vital vocational skills.

Daniela Rodriguez is 21. Her time at the program is coming to a close and once she leave, she hopes to get a job at an airport or start cosmetology school.

"If you come to Southside it will change your life. You get to meet new people and teachers they will make you feel better and they will help you out," Rodriguez said.

Tens of thousands of people visit Navy Pier every year, visitors and Chicagoans alike.

"People coming and going, it's children, it's love, it's the beach," Hart said.

It's people enjoying the views, the food and artwork. It's just people having fun.

"It's the place to be. It's wonderful, there's no other place like it," Navy Pier Senior Guest Experience Manager Devonne Phams said. "People say Los Angeles or California is wonderful but to experience Chicago in the summer, it'll be nothing you'll ever forget."
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