By Ken MacLeod

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s opening night eve at Fenway Park and there are no fans camped out on Lansdowne Street. The Red Sox headed off that tradition amid COVID concerns, by announcing there will be no “day of” tickets made available at Gate E — as in year’s past.

But we still found Anne McGhee at her easel with a handful of paint brushes. “Initially, it wasn’t about baseball at all,” she tells us.

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She’s getting her opening day excitement by painting the other side of the Green Monster — Fenway’s famed left field wall. “The structure just really turns me on,” McGhee says. “It’s crazy. I don’t know why.”

The Sox 110th season at Fenway will launch Thursday in a fashion that fits the times — with only 4,500 masked fans allowed seated in pairs and pods of four — to stay within the 12% capacity restriction.

Yessenia Peralta and her boyfriend — both from the Dominican Republic — will be among them. “And we are so excited to see the first game,” she said as they took selfies outside the ballpark Wednesday night.

The Sox have shifted to ticketless entry and assigned fans differing gates closer to their seats.

There won’t be a temperature check — but fans will have to complete a health questionnaire on the Major League Baseball APP.

The Sox have a special pre-game ceremony planned to honor health care heroes — including a military flyover.

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“Having people back in Fenway is going to be huge for us,” says Jeff Wiedmayer, who runs the Bleacher Bar on Lansdowne.

Despite the soggy forecast, nearby businesses are hoping this is an important step.

“We’re finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel,” says Wiedmayer. “We’re getting there. I just hope that it’s sooner rather than later.”

“I missed it and I love it and I’m just happy to return,” says Merralee Morrison. We spotted her on her way to resume her kitchen job at Fenway — and she was feeling it. “This is what we’ve been waiting for,” she told us. “It’s a return to normal — and it’s the Red Sox! Are you kidding me?!”

Back at her easel, Anne McGhee admits that painting the old ballpark has turned her into a Sox fan — of sorts. “Of course, I got hooked,” she says with a chuckle.

She’s hoping that baseball season brings a fresh pallet to the city’s COVID recovery. “I think there’s a lot of memories embedded in that park,” she says.

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Fans are requested to be in their seats by 1:30, with the pre-game ceremony starting up a few minutes later — and first pitch against the Baltimore Orioles set for 2:10. Weather permitting.

Ken MacLeod