BETHPAGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – What a difference a year makes.

Last year, the Bethpage Air Show was canceled. This year, it’s back.

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CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff watched thrilling rehearsal performances Friday, and there are high hopes the weather won’t scuttle the weekend shows.

But no matter what, Long Island summer is back.

There were stirring moments as the Army Golden Knights parachuted into a thrilled crowd. Wind took the landing a little off mark, but no one got hurt.

One year a pandemic canceled this Long Island tradition, it’s back.

“It’s amazing to just see people around, everyone. It’s just so much fun,” one person said.

“It feels good just to be outside among people, society coming back to normal,” said another.

“I’m very excited to be back,” said another.

Augustus Tang, 5, agrees.

“Very, very, very, very, very, very excited,” he said.

Weather permitting, there will be two days of shows, which are sold out, but viewable online. To do so, CLICK HERE.

“It’s the first event that’s really a large scale event here on Long Island, and we are happy to host it. The Bethpage Air Show is an icon,” said regional director of NYS Parks George Gorman.

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“We were safe and we stayed home, and we socially distanced, and this is our reward. All Long Islanders know when you see the planes and the flights, this is the official kick off to summer,” said Kristen Reynolds of Discover Long Island.

COVID protocols require 50% capacity, blankets six feet apart, masks optional if vaccinated, and requested indoors.

For some, it’s the first taste of nearly normal.

“We are starting to open up a little bit, and we thought Jones Beach and the air show was the perfect week to do it,” said Saratoga resident Randy Simons.

The Air Force Thunderbirds flew over the city at the height of the pandemic. They’re back to pay tribute to New York again.

“We can overcome anything, and New York is leading the charge in that, and always has, and always will,” said Lt. Col. Kevin DiFalco.

The unofficial kick off of the beach season brings hopeful officials prepping for 100% capacity by July 4.

“We have always anticipated a full opening at 100% and we can turn the key if the state allows us to go full percent this weekend,” said Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin.

It’s a weekend many are mindful of what this is all about.

“It’s about Memorial Day and really giving thanks to all our wonderful soldiers to fight for our country and our freedom,” said Lake Grove resident Donna Russo.

So will the show go on Saturday or Sunday?

Officials say the call will be made each morning by 8:30 a.m. Lots of factors go into it – rain, wind and visibility. But there seems to be a sense that no matter what the weather, summer fun is back.

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Carolyn Gusoff