Virginia Beach business owners remain hopeful after weekend of Neptune Festival activities

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Virginia Beach business owners remain optimistic after the first weekend of the Neptune Festival was canceled due to the remnants of Hurricane Ian.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Many businesses in Virginia Beach have felt the impact of not having Neptune Festival parties this year. But that hasn’t stopped people from coming out to help some local stores that depend on big events.

The impact of last week’s cancellation of Neptune Festival Walk events, due to Hurricane Ian, has been felt by vendors, the community and business owners. But several managers also said a lot of people were out over the weekend, giving them hope to bounce back.

On Sunday, the Virginia Beach Oceanfront didn’t seem to be ending after 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 than what people experienced last week.

“If you were here a week ago, the boardwalk was covered in sand. It was quite unpleasant,” said Chix on Beach, operations manager, Eric Emerson.

Gusty winds and the threat of potential tidal flooding in Virginia Beach prompted organizers to cancel the Neptune Festival Walk weekend.

“There’s really no way to have a hurricane threat and not impact tourist activity,” Emerson said.

Emerson operates three beachfront restaurants, including Chix on the Beach. He said storms and the cancellation of the festival haven’t brought many customers to his businesses.

“It was pretty empty in the middle of the storms, you know. It was very windy and rainy for days, and it wasn’t great,” Emerson said.

But Emerson said he remained positive as many locals and visitors filled one of his restaurants over the weekend.

Justine Ochal comes from New York. She said she also worked in the restaurant industry.

“Knowing that there are still many people who are still feeling the wounds of the pandemic, the staff shortages and all that they are going through. If the doors are open and you can support them, it is worth to come in and support them,” Ochal said.

Emerson hopes more visitors will keep the momentum going.

“I can’t beat this party animal,” said John Jennings, who is from Ohio.

It encourages people to visit the beach during the winter months and support local oceanfront businesses.

“Go to Virginia Beach. I love it,” Jennings said.

Neptune festival CEO Kit Chope told 13News Now that around 13 events over the boardwalk weekend have been cancelled.

Chope said the weekend typically generates $23.5 million a year for Virginia Beach’s economy.

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