SAN DIEGO — For fans back to Petco Park for the Padres home opening weekend against the Atlanta Braves, it was a season start reminiscent of pre-pandemic days.
“Just to be back at the park at full capacity on opening weekend, I am very excited to see the Padres again, and it has been rocking the last few nights,” said Padres fan Josh Estala, 25, from Eastlake.
With no fans allowed in the 2020 season, and capacity limits and mask and vaccination requirements for 2021, San Diegans are excited to root for the home team with ease.
"Now, we are all mask-free, and now we can all enjoy our time without the government, and let's go watch some baseball and get back to normal,” said Chris Kempka, a Padres fan at from Clairemont at the game with his fiancé and family.
It’s a big weekend for celebrating among crowds in Southern California with the return or many large events. Many are catching Harry Styles live in person as tens of thousands flock to Coachella Valley for the music festival unfettered by COVID restrictions and with a $500 ticket price.
San Diegan Allie Emmons will go to Coachella next weekend, but for her first Padres game of the season, she pre-gamed at La Puerta with a California burrito with her boyfriend near the ballpark.
"I am so excited that the world is opening back up slowly but surely. We are finally getting back to our roots,” said Emmons, who lives in the UTC area.
Mega fans in jerseys like 13-year-old Jacob Estala of Eastlake dressed the part down to bringing a catcher’s mitt.
"I’m excited about seeing all the players and getting back here. It has been a long while, but park in the park is back, it is just cool to see everyone having fun again,” Estala said.
There was much more foot and car traffic downtown for the eventful weekend. Public parking at one stadium lot cost $55.
Selena Albuquerque, 13, attended the game with her 7-year-old little sister Bella and her father. She said it was fun to see the players in person and instead of just on the television.
This was the Albuquerque family’s first large event with crowds in two years.
"It's a little bit more normalcy, but you know we still got to keep our boundaries, and our parameters of safety, you know especially with young ones,” said Padres fan and father Carlos Albuquerque.
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