DENVER — A woman standing behind me at the corner of 20th and Blake streets might have summed it up best.
"This makes me almost feel normal," she said as we were ushered across the street in a purple-clad mass of people toward Coors Field.
The key word here is "almost." Just across Blake was a man in medical scrubs surrounded by coolers who was offering free COVID-19 testing. Nearly everyone was wearing a face mask, and the usual crazy crowd on Opening Day was reduced to what you might see during a low-stakes weekend game where the opponent's team doesn't have a big following among Denver transplants.
Last year's home opener was virtual. This year, the Colorado Rockies got permission from the state to start hosting 21,000 fans at Coors Field, with plenty of social distancing, the aforementioned mask wearing and a Dinger that's been reduced to the equivalent of quarantine, since he can't interact with fans.
Nevertheless, it was the biggest crowd that I've been a part of in more than a year. But, a comparison between 2019 and today makes it clear that the definition of "crowd" has changed in the last two years.
Here's a look at Opening Day 2019:
Here's a more subdued look at 2021:
It doesn't mean there weren't crowds though. People were lined up outside of the Viewhouse, which has expanded with all of the outdoor seating.
The vice president of the Viewhouse said the pandemic hit it hard (like virtually every other restaurant in the state), but it has been able to return to 70% staff and the hope is that it will be at 100% by May 1, assuming conditions continue to improve.
Other restaurants near Coors Field also saw some crowds ... and leaned into the whole outdoor seating thing.
And, in proof that some things never change, there were people waiting outside of Snooze.
Probably the biggest change from 2019 were the scooters. Two years ago (or two million years ago, depending on your perspective), everyone was all about the scooters. I actually spotted a scooter graveyard just across the street from Coors Field, where they aren't allowed.
This year, the scooter graveyard was much smaller, and less chaotic.
Closer to the ballpark (full disclosure: I didn't have a ticket or credentials to get in), people were for the most part good about social distancing.
As you can see from the GIF below, we've been doing the six foot thing for so long it's basically engrained in us at this point.
There are fancy new markers though to remind Rockies fans to stay apart.
Of course, there were moments where there were will crowds. Like in the GIF below, during a walk across the crosswalk at 20th and Blake.
And of course, while these scenes look relatively normal ... there was also this:
What will it look like for the rest of season? Only time will tell, but one thing that's clear is people love seeing some return to watching Rockies baseball at Coors Field.
>>> Check out the featured Instagram story on 9NEWS' Instagram for more scenes from the 2021 home opener.
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