NEWPORT, Ky. — For the first time in more than a year and a half, Party on the People returned Wednesday, drawing a large crowd onto the Purple People Bridge at Newport on the Levee.
For some visitors, the revived weekly block party featuring food trucks, beer tents and live music, offered a hopeful glimpse of better times on the horizon.
"Look around," said Dan Shea, chair member of the Cincinnati Celtic Festival. "Maybe I shouldn't mention this, but nobody has masks on. We're outside. It looks like we're getting back. We're getting back there."
Late last month, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear lifted mask requirements for outdoor events with 1,000 or fewer attendees.
The crowd swelled for the live music, but thinned out to allow more social distancing at other times throughout the evening.
Seeing smaller events like Party on the People come back, Shea said, has gotten members of groups like his eager to get ready for their own.
"Last year, we had to cancel. I can tell you all the Irish, Scottish, Welsh groups are chomping at the bit to have an event," he said. "Everything's been so pent up for so long. We're so happy to be here and be able to walk through and see people again."
Party-goer Arthur Calamari agreed.
"(It's) such a nice relief to see people. We've made the best of it, walking and being outside. Feels so good to be around people," he said.
Seven-year-old Ava and 3-year-old Eve even dressed up for the occasion.
"It's been a while," Ava said. "Since last year. Last year was a bit more fun."
Even the kids know it's been a long year, and hopefully this year, they had a little more fun.
"We already did," Ava said.
The Party on the People will take place every Wednesday (weather permitting) between now and August.