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Finally, the Lakefront Trail and The 606 reopen to the public

The walkways reopened Monday after being closed to try to control the spread of the coronavirus.

People exercise on The 606 trail near Western Avenue on the North Side on the first day the park reopened to the public after being closed amid fears of the coronavirus pandemic.
People exercise on The 606 trail near Western Avenue on the North Side on the first day the park reopened to the public after being closed amid fears of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The throaty growl of a passing motorboat. A dog yapping at the waves. And, as far as the eye could see, the lake shimmering like a million silver coins.

“Enjoying the lakefront, that’s what Chicago is all about,” said Matt Zellmer, 27, out for a walk with his Australian Shepherd dog, Tucker, near Montrose Harbor on Monday morning.

Zellmer said he was delighted to escape from his “700-square-foot box” of an apartment — a sentiment echoed by many stir-crazy Chicagoans. The lakefront trails — though not the beaches — and The 606 trail are the latest options now reopened to the public.

“So far, everyone has been really responsible. Staying far apart,” he said.

For Annie Reising, 31, of Wrigleyville, it was her first-ever trip to the city’s lakefront. She moved here in October.

“I was out of town a lot and then the holidays hit. It was cold. Then the coronavirus,” she explained. “I missed my chance. I’ve been waiting for this for months.”

Leigh Allan, 73, of Lake View, said despite the lockdown, he’s been coming to the lakefront — but only “very, very rarely.” Many others have, too, he said.

“I did not come over the weekend because it was just too jammed with people,” he said. “They put up barricades. People take the barricades down. Now, I have not seen very much, if any, of the kinds of things you’d be worried about — that is, large groups of people assembling, parties, picnics.”

Things were slightly less harmonious along The 606, a trail that runs through Logan Square, Humboldt Park and Bucktown,

A cyclist swerved suddenly and yelled, “On your left! Watch where you’re going!” to an oblivious walker wearing headphones.

People exercise Monday on the Lakefront Trail near Fullerton Avenue.
People exercise Monday on the Lakefront Trail near Fullerton Avenue.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

After three months away, it may take some time for the walkers, joggers and cyclists to remember how to peacefully coexist.

Ned English missed the elevated trail so much he used it twice Monday morning — once to go jogging and then a little later for a stroll with his 3-year-old daughter, Frida.

English, who lives near Humboldt Park, said he’s seen plenty of people using the trail during the lockdown.

“I didn’t feel right doing that with a little kid,” said English, 43.

It was worth the wait.

“It’s beautiful. There is no traffic, and it’s one of the nicest parks around here,” he said.

Daniel Salas and his wife, Eliud Corona, were out pushing a stroller. Inside were their tiny chihuahuas, Elsa and Topo Grigio.

“We were excited to hear it was opening today,” said Corona, 42, who lives in the Humboldt Park neighborhood.

Both she and her husband said while they enjoy the park after which their neighborhood is named, they have missed the changing scenery the trail offers. Salas massaged his belly and explained the other reason he was out walking Monday.

“We’ve gained a few pounds,” he said. “My doctor recommended exercising.”