By Heather Janssen

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Fewer COVID cases in California have led to the seemingly most normal feeling holiday weekend for families and restaurants since the pandemic began.

While things aren’t exactly back to pre-pandemic life, the easing of restrictions has more people feeling comfortable getting back together. Things like Easter egg hunts and brunch were back on after spending the holiday in lockdown last year.

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At Camden Spit & Larder in Sacramento, it’s back to basics as chef and owner Oliver Ridgeway and his staff worked hard to prepare ahead of the holiday.

“We’re back, the lights are on, and the staff are healthy,” Ridgeway said.

Camden Spit & Larder was forced to turn to takeout a year ago, and Ridgeway says they did see tremendous success. But this year, the restaurant is eager to bring back the main ingredient of serving Easter brunch — the people.

“This is kind of the first celebration for a lot of families to get out into a restaurant again,” Ridgeway said.

Cooks in the kitchen spent Saturday afternoon prepping patties and potatoes.

“It’s kind of exciting to get food back on plates again instead of in boxes,” Ridgeway said.

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But brunching isn’t the only tradition making a comeback. Julianna Mcgee spent her Saturday evening cheering on her happy, Easter egg-hunting son.

“This is amazing right now, I could cry,” she said – overwhelmed with joy. “This is as much fun as they’re going to get for Easter.”

After all the fun activities were canceled last year, families were thankful to see smiles on children’s faces again – even if they’re hidden by facemasks.

More vaccinations and fewer restrictions are now leading families like Tira Wascom’s to gather again on Sunday.

“Just try to enjoy the day in a small group and try to enjoy each other,” Wascom said. “It’s been a long time, even since before the pandemic.”

These families and businesses welcome this change of pace.

“Having last year was a bit of a hiccup in the game plan overall,” said Ridgeway.

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All planning for a taste of normalcy, the first time in a long time. But infectious disease experts still encourage people to do Easter outdoors if possible, and avoid mixing between too many different households – especially if everyone in attendance isn’t vaccinated.

Heather Janssen