By Ali Bauman

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was a fun start to the work week for music and sports fans.

Several live events in the city returned to full capacity on Monday night, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported.

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A mask-free crowd danced along to live music in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

“Vaccinated, ready to go. Everybody is smiling,” resident Amy Bernstein said.

“It feels like freedom. It feels so good,” Christopher Brown added.

It was one of several free concerts citywide, for the annual “Make Music New York” festival, which is back after having to go virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

“The last year was for musicians really terrifying because everyone had these great plans they were gonna do and it all fell apart,” musician Clive Thompson said. “So this was the first time we’ve been back in the saddle.”

COVID VACCINE

The concerts also give a boost to local businesses, like Freddy’s Bar on Brooklyn’s Fifth Avenue.

“Wonderfully normal to have people, music. This is what we’re all about and we haven’t been able to do it in a long time, so I’m psyched we’re doing it now,” bartender Ellen O’Shea said.

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Meanwhile, Lincoln Center hosted its largest ticketed dance event since the pandemic, with “Dance Against Cancer,” a star-studded performance benefitting the American Cancer Society.

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Also, Citi Field returned to full capacity for the Mets’ doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves. Fans were not required to wear masks or socially distance, and they did not need proof of vaccination nor a negative COVID test.

“Now that they’re fully open and everything, it’s good for my business and it’s really good to go to a game with everyone cheering and stuff,” delivery driver Justin Harris said.

Islanders fans were also able to gather at Nassau Coliseum to watch their team in Tampa, Florida for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs semifinals.

Back in Brooklyn, performers and fans told Bauman they feel a new appreciation for what they used to take for granted.

“I didn’t realize until the masks came off how much I missed seeing the smiles and the expressions,” Brown said.

“It’s a busy day. I haven’t worked this hard in a minute. It feels good,” Freddy’s bartender Ellen O’Shea said.

“You’re a stranger and I’m talking to you. It’s wonderful,” added Peter Schleifer of Park Slope.

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It was just the start of what should be an exciting summer.

Ali Bauman