Labor Day 2020 looks different amid COVID-19 pandemic as summer comes to an end

Navy Pier, Solider Field drive-in movies set to close after Labor Day weekend
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Labor Day in Chicago is always a little bittersweet as we say goodbye to summer, but after three turbulent months, some say they're ready to turn the page.

For many, the perfect place to spend Labor Day was a patch of grass in their neighborhood park

"For us, the weather is great so it means you can go out, which means you can be COVID-safe and have a good time," said Dan Pocius.

Labor Day 2020 was far from typical holiday picnics so many look forward to on a summer day off from work.

One group of friends made sure to keep their distance and no one brought food to eliminate the risk from sharing plates.

"We ate our lunch before coming here," said Perri Schneider. "This has been kind of a pattern throughout the summer. We know to bring our blankets and chairs and have them well-spaced out."

Many kids also took advantage of one of the final days of the season at the splash pad in Park Ridge over Labor Day weekend.

"Trying to take advantage of the last day, the last beautiful day of summer," said parent Laura Cohen

This summer has been unlike no other.

The sand in Chicago never reopened and beachfront restaurants, like Caffe Oliva, only reopened last month.

Ernesto Alvarez/Manager, Caffe Oliva "It's been challenging. I cannot complain. It's just 2020," said Ernesto Alvarez, manager at Caffee Oliva.

"It's just 2020" may have been the perfect slogan of this summer that left everyone looking for COVID-19 safe activities. The meant no festivals, including Chicago's Lollapalooza.

However, the pandemic summer did resurged some old activities, like drive-in movies. Soldier Field temporarily set a space up in the parking lot outside the stadium, but it is also slated to close at the end of the week.

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Soldier Field is now the largest entertainment venue in Chicago with its drive-in movies, and that's all thanks to one woman.


"We've had nine weeks behind us. This is our tenth and final week. We're hoping to kind of go out with a bang," said Tionna Van Gundy with Chi Together.

But tourist destinations, like the iconic Navy Pier, saw few people this season, prompting the popular spot to close for the rest of the year despite a few weeks of mild weather left.

The pier, which is normally open year round, will close after Labor Day until spring 2021.

"What this closure will do is limit expenses, especially at a time when we're aren't seeing the attendance and revenues," said Navy Pier Spokesperson Payal Patel. "And then reopen when, hopefully, the pandemic is over and we can welcome people back safely."

RELATED: Visitors say farewell to Navy Pier

Ironically, many of the businesses at Navy Pier say they are enjoying their busiest days of the summer during the Labor Day weekend, just in time to close for the year.

"The weather's been good this holiday weekend," said Grant DePorter at Harry Caray's Tavern, "people know it's their last chance to visit Navy Pier."

"I think we've made the best of it," said Birgitte Miller. "You didn't have, like, didn't have the concerts. You didn't have the baseball games. You didn't have any activities, but it's all been great."
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