By Marissa Parra

CHICAGO (CBS) — Fireworks made a triumphant return to Navy Pier Saturday night after a year of pandemic darkness – with bursts of color lighting up the downtown sky.

The show was held at 9 p.m. following the Pier’s longest closure in recent history.

READ MORE: 8-Year-Old Accidentally Discharges Gun, Wounds 11-Year-Old In Bronzeville

As CBS 2’s Marissa Parra reported, the fireworks on Saturday night – the first of the season – were set off in tribute to all the health care and frontline workers who put their lives on the line when the pandemic was at its worst.

For many who watched, the fireworks felt like a kickstart to a new chapter of the pandemic – and the start to Chicago summer as we knew it before.

Navy Pier was back with a bang Saturday in more than one sense of the word. The Ferris wheel was on the move, and snacks and treats were in the hands of hungry visitors.

“It’s been busy,” said David Borzkowski as he sold cashews and other nuts. “I had one lady say she couldn’t do another day watching TV she just had to get out, especially with it being 80 degrees out here.”

The warm weather brought out the crowds – and for the first time this year, that fact did not have Borzkowski anxious.

“Having had my second vaccine shot, I feel a lot more comfortable with the crowds,” he said. “I’d feel a lot more hesitant if I wasn’t vaccinated.”

READ MORE: Girl, 17, Among 2 Shot In Back Of The Yards

The light on the horizon is a welcome one after a tough year for business – and few are more excited than Kilwins ice cream owner Jackie Jackson, who was preparing cases that will soon hold apples and fudge.

“Last year, March of 2020, we was all ready to open up – but unfortunately due to the pandemic, we never got to open,” Jackson said.

And Kilwins shops everywhere have been hit hard by the pandemic. Jackson’s Kilwins shop on Michigan Avenue was hit even harder by looting during the civil unrest last year.

“I took a pretty big hit across the board,” Jackson said.

Hoping to leave 2020 in the past, Jackson is focusing on this year – when Kilwins Navy Pier finally comes alive. It is a dream a decade in the making.

“Really, really counting on Navy Pier to knock it out of the park,” she said. “This really kept me going.”

Jackson is aiming to have Kilwins Navy Pier open by Memorial Day – when you can try her treats for yourself.

MORE NEWS: Police Investigate Loop Carjacking

And just like in times not so far past, you can also catch the Navy Pier fireworks yourself every Saturday leading up to it.