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Visitors flock to reopened Navy Pier

After being closed for eight months, the pier welcomed visitors Friday as part of its phased reopening.

The Gomez family tours Navy Pier on its reopening day, Friday morning, April 30, 2021. Navy Pier closed in September 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Gomez family tours Navy Pier on Friday, as the pier reopened for the first time in almost eight months.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Patrick Murphy’s first Chicago visit was well-timed.

He and his wife, Linda, traveled to the city from their Akron, Ohio home and made Navy Pier one of their stops on Friday — the first day the pier was open to the public after being closed for nearly eight months during the pandemic.

“It was perfect, because we planned the trip about a month ago and the fact that we arrived today, and it’s reopening, and he’s never been here,” said Linda Murphy.

“It’s a beautiful sunny day. We’re just wandering around, sightseeing, and then going to get deep-dish pizza for dinner.”

Patrick Murphy, 60, and his wife, Linda Murphy, 58, from Akron, Ohio visited Navy Pier on Friday.
Patrick Murphy, 60, and his wife, Linda Murphy, 58, from Akron, Ohio visited Navy Pier on Friday.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The pier is welcoming visitors as part of its phased reopening plan. The pier’s parking garages are now open, along with tour boats and cruises. A new hotel, Sable, opened last month. Some restaurants are open, though capacity remains limited.

Renata and Matthew King came to the pier Friday to take photos and enjoy the popular waterfront destination’s outdoor attractions, including the Ferris wheel and carousel.

“We heard about it on the news and knew we would have to come,” Renata King said. “It’s almost a little extra windy, but we’re still enjoying it.”

Renata King and her husband Matthew pose for a photo at Navy Pier on its reopening day. Navy Pier was closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Renata King and her husband Matthew were excited to be back at Navy Pier.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Though some visitors were disappointed that more restaurants weren’t open and had hoped for more music, activities and events to celebrate the day, most were happy to get outdoors, be near the water and enjoy the sun.

“We went on the Ferris wheel, and got some funnel cake. We walked the pier, and after this were planning on going to the Disney store. We’re so excited about the reopening, we wanted to go last week but we got the date wrong,” said Elizabeth Bacharach, 18, from Lombard, who was there with Aurelia Dominguez.

“I miss stuff like this,” added Dominguez, also from Lombard. “Even if you don’t spend money at restaurants or on overpriced rides, just walking up and down with people you love, people you want to hang out with. The scenery — I miss that kind of vibe. Just getting outside, not being home.”

Elizabeth Bacharach (left) and Aurelia Dominguez enjoy walking around Navy Pier Friday, April 30, 2021.
Elizabeth Bacharach (left) and Aurelia Dominguez enjoy walking around Navy Pier Friday.
Zinya Salfiti/Sun-Times