ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- COVID-19 cancellation after cancellation left our summer 2020 calendars feeling pretty empty.
"Last summer, all bets were off," Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA) Holly Masek said. "It was like breaking hearts, over and over again."
The sunny season of 2021 however, is looking up.
"It feels so good to have everyone come back to downtown. Even just the energy that's been coming back," Masek said. "We just got the patios placed, so we can see people eating outside again. Starting to see employees and patients and residents downtown. We just really love to see our friends come to this area again."
COVID-19 guidelines permitted, RDA is starting to gradually welcome events back to the Med City; including the highly anticipated Thursdays Downtown.
"We missed it last year," downtown Rochester employee Marne Matysek said. "Especially to be able to have a lunch break in the middle of the day, have something extra outside of the cafeteria and being in the sun. So, we are counting down the days."
The event that brings about 20,000 people to downtown Rochester during the summer on Thursdays, runs down 1st Street and 1st Avenue. However, Peace Plaza is still heavily under construction. Organizers say they'll work around it.
"We're in touch with them on a weekly basis," Masek said. "As far as we know, we're on track for July 8th. And if we're not, everyone wants to see this festival happen and we will adjust the lay out if we need to."
Other events, like the beloved Rochesterfest and the Olmsted County fair, are on track for a return as well.
"It's nothing but pure excitement," Rochesterfest Executive Director Brandon Helgeson said. "It's a mad rush to get these things up and running with a shorter window than we normally would to plan these. But, for me, it's about putting smiles on community members faces with these events coming back."
After a long year of isolation, long standing traditions are returning and southeast Minnesota residents are reconnecting with their neighbors.
"With all this COVID stuff, it's good to see people outside," Rochester resident Jaydon Azuna said. "It's been really bland downtown. Not a lot of people around. It's nice to see everyone come together again."
Along with Thursdays Downtown, Rochester Downtown Alliance will start outdoor "Fresh Fitness Classes" at Central Park on Tuesdays and Thursdays in May and June. Movies in the park will start in June every other Saturday.
As for even bigger events like the Great Minnesota Get Together; organizers say it will continue as scheduled.