NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Is it really here? Has spring finally sprung?

As CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock reported, it may not look or feel like it, but spring did indeed start on Thursday. And that meant smiling faces, and big business for some.

Spring started at exactly 12:57 p.m. Thursday, bringing hope for warmer days ahead.

As of late Thursday afternoon with temperatures in the 50s, Vanessa Arias of Elizabeth, N.J. said it felt “a little bit” like spring, and conceded that she was underdressed with no jacket.

Isabel, 4, said summer is her favorite season. But she likes spring too.

“The flowers start blooming; new leaves start growing,” she said.

There was a spring in many of the little ones’ steps for the first day of the eponymous season. Some were looking forward to hearing the songs and chirps of birds.

But while there weren’t too many birds tweeting on Thursday, the sound of spring was heard in the pretty purr of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle engine. The motorcycle belonged to Cynthia from Saddle River, N.J.

“It’s a little windy, but it’s a beautiful day to be out riding,” Cynthia said.

It was her first day out on the open road this year.

“It feels awesome,” Cynthia said. “I was just smiling the whole ride down.”

Retiree John Gidney was all smiles too. He could not wait to roll out his 1986 Sportster this weekend.

“I sat on the bike a couple of days (ago); ridden it? It’s been since fall,” he said. “I’m raring to go.”

And Gidney was not the only one. Rows of motorcycles lined up to go home said it all – spring means blooming business at Bergen County Harley-Davidson in Rochelle Park, N.J., where the number of bikes serviced daily triples that of the winter months.

“It’s still a little cool in the morning, and it gets nice and warm in the afternoons,” said Bob Moliterno of the dealership. “People just love to get out and ride.”

And after a winter of getting walloped by snowstorm after snowstorm, many were also waiting in line for a taste of spring – in the form of free Italian ice at Rita’s on the Upper West Side. The frozen treats came just in time for the spring thaw.

In his long-range forecast this week, CBS 2’s Lonnie Quinn said the Tri-State Area is facing a colder-than-average start to spring, with the first three weeks seeing temperatures hovering in the 40s when they should be in the 50s.

But temperatures on Thursday did climb to 54 degrees.

Quinn attributes the chilly conditions this spring to continuing cold air coming from northern Canada that could also bring spring rain and — depending on how cold it gets — possibly some lingering snow.

But it’s not all bad news for spring — there will be more daylight.

Thursday had an additional 3 hours and 15 minutes of daylight compared with the first day of winter, because the sun is closer this time of year. And by mid-April, temperatures should be in the 60s with warm, dry air.

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