DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - On top of spring break, St. Patrick's Day and no statewide mask requirement, places around North Texas are packed.
From Dallas to Fort Worth at places like bars and even the zoo, many say they're relieved to finally be out and about mask-free.
"I know for me and my family we are pretty excited to start to get back to normal," said Mark Roberts, a Fort Worth Zoo guest.
"I feel amazing, so relieving honestly. It feels like I can breathe again, and I can talk to people!" said Aaron Crigger, a bar goer in Fort Worth.
It's the first weekend since Gov. Greg Abbott lifted his mask order and allowed businesses to operate on their own terms.
For the Fort Worth Zoo, that means masks are optional. It's a choice many took advantage of today.
"We did pick this zoo over the Dallas zoo just cause its more difficult for the smaller kids especially to keep their mask on," said Jonathan Houllihan, a zoo guest.
The loosened restrictions happen to fall on a weekend where folks are vacationing and now celebrating St. Patrick's Day.
On Saturday, crowds gathered in Lower Greenville where typically the Dallas St. Patrick's Day parade would be held.
In the Stockyards, similar crowds celebrated during Fort Worth's annual Cowtown Goes Green event.
And though many places are welcoming more business this week, they're trying not to contribute to another COVID-19 surge.
"A big spike would require us to close down again," said Don Boles, owner of Fort Worth's Star Cafe.
Business owners understand the worst case scenario but are doing what they need to stay alive.
"I mean obviously we don't want to spread it. We are doing the best we can, but obviously we want to survive as a business too," said Morgan Robert's, owner of the Dirty Crow.
It's a fine line to walk. Businesses are just hoping their guests stay as safe as possible in light of the crowds.
"We hope that everyone can continue to take part and share the responsibility with us to keep everyone safe," said Avery Elander of the Fort Worth zoo.
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