Virginia Beach business owners are staying optimistic after the first weekend of the Neptune Festival was canceled due to remnant of Hurricane Ian.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Many Virginia Beach businesses felt the impact of not having portions of the Neptune Festival this year. But it didn’t stop folks from coming out to help some local shops that depend on big events.
The impact of the last week’s cancellation of the Neptune Festival boardwalk events, due to Hurricane Ian, were felt by vendors, the community and business owners. But multiple managers also said many people came out this weekend, which gives them hope to bounce back.
On Sunday, the Virginia Beach Oceanfront didn’t seem like it was winding down from the summer season. Many events took place including live bands and the return of the Sand Sculpting Championships.
The large crowds were a different sight from what people experienced last week.
“If you were here a week ago the boardwalk was covered in sand. It was pretty nasty,” said Chix on the Beach Director of Operations, Eric Emerson.
Gusty winds and the threats of potential tidal flooding in Virginia Beach caused organizers to cancel the Neptune Festival Boardwalk Weekend.
“There’s really no way to have a threat of a hurricane come in and not impact the tourism business,” said Emerson.
Emerson runs three restaurants on the Oceanfront, including Chix on the Beach. He said the storms and the cancellation of the festival didn’t bring a lot of customers to his businesses.
“It was pretty empty mid storms you know. There was a lot of wind and rain for days, and it wasn’t great,” said Emerson.
But Emerson said he’s staying positive as many locals and visitors filled one of his restaurants this weekend.
Justine Ochal is visiting from New York. She said she also works in the restaurant industry.
“Knowing that there’s still a lot of people that still feel the hurts of the pandemic, the shortage of staff, and everything that they are going through. If the doors are open and you can support, it’s worth going in and supporting them,” said Ochal.
Emerson hopes more visitors keep up that momentum.
“Can’t beat this party man,” said John Jennings, who is visiting from Ohio.
He’s encouraging people to visit the beach through the winter season months and support local businesses at the Oceanfront.
“Go Virginia Beach. I love it, “ said Jennings.
Neptune Festival CEO Kit Chope told 13News Now that around 13 events during the Boardwalk Weekend were canceled.
Chope said the weekend usually generates $23.5 million annually for the Virginia Beach economy.