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Indiana, Wisconsin beaches draw Memorial Day weekend tourists, while Chicago lakefront sits empty

PORTER COUNTY, Ind. (WLS) — Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva looked like a pre-pandemic summer day on Sunday, a sight unseen in months.

Outdoor restaurants were packed with patrons, while beachgoers enjoyed the lake waters during the Memorial Day weekend. Social distance signs posted in the sand served as reminders.

Meanwhile, families and smiling faces sprawled through a 2-mile stretch of Porter County’s West Beach in northwest Indiana Sunday.

“It’s really nice, especially coming from quarantine, you know, just really enjoying the weather,” said William Barlow.

Days after Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb officially moved most of the state into Phase Three of the reopening plan, some beaches, parts of the lakefront and Indiana Dunes National Park reopened in time for the holiday weekend.

“We really, quite frankly, didn’t think we’d be seeing so many people out here in this beautiful weather, but to our surprise, we made the best of it,” said Susan Kilani.

Kilani and her family drove from the Chicago suburbs to make the most of Memorial Day weekend, in what has recently been the worst of times.

Kilani said seeing the celebrations at West Beach has given her hope for whatever the new normal will be.

“They’re really cautious when they’re walking. They do pay attention. They walk around people so I don’t feel threatened at all,” she said.

In anticipation of the partial reopening of beaches, the National Park Service encouraged beachgoers to visit larger beaches, like West Beach, to allow for better social distancing practices.

“As long as you take proper precautions, stay 6 feet away, you know everything should be good,” William Barlow said.

In Illinois, the Wilmette Park District allowed visitors to access Gillson Park Beach for a small fee.

But in Chicago, during a weekend where revelers would normally pack the jewel of the city, North Avenue Beach sat empty.

In Portage, those out and about said Sunday was the breath of fresh air they needed, in a time not afforded to all.

Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Source: ABC7 Chicago

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