RYE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)Playland Park in Rye reopens Saturday.

The Great Depression and World War II couldn’t close the park, but the coronavirus pandemic did for the entire 2020 season.

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The break gave Westchester County time to put the finishing touches on a rehab of one of its crown jewels, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Friday.

Sparklers and confetti added a festive touch as Westchester County celebrated the reopening of Playland, the only government-owned amusement park in the U.S.

It’s ready once more to welcome thousands of visitors and provide hundreds of seasonal jobs.

The COVID cancelation of the 2020 season was a summer bummer for Cienna Gabriele, who works at Playland.

“I think we are definitely hitting that normal mark again. I did not expect it to happen that fast, but I am so happy that it did,” Gabriele said.

The park is a particular favorite with youngsters from Westchester and the Bronx.

“Missed all the rides, all the fun the kids have,” said Andrea Gomez from East Tremont.

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Many have missed the joyful noise of the historic carousel and its horses, painted with vivid, incredible detail.

In 2017, a fire that started in the cupola caused millions of dollars in smoke, flame and water damage. The roof was compromised and the mechanicals were ruined.

After an extensive restoration effort, it’s impossible not to be impressed by the final result as the gleaming ponies go ’round and ’round once more.

“The restoration of that carousel is a symbol of our commitment to the tradition of this park,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer.

New hand sanitizing stations are the only reminders of the pandemic that shut the park for an entire season.

2021 also marks the end of a legal merry-go-round over the future of the park.

Westchester County spent $5 million trying to cancel a contract with a private firm. The county lost and that private firm will run Playland starting in 2022.

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The park is set to reopen at noon Saturday, July 26. The traditional weekly fireworks show returns Friday, July 9.

Tony Aiello