HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) - The closed signs are down and barricades removed -- the budget agreement in Washington means hundreds of museums, monuments, and parks are open again. Historic Jamestowne and Yorktown are two locations where tourists are flooding back.
Gates and doors reopened at 9 a.m. sharp Thursday, and license plates from across the country filled the parking lot of the Jamestowne Visitor Center. Many of those tourists had specific plans that were put on hold along with much of the federal government. However, many history buffs still wanted to visit Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown.
"They're always open," said Rhonda Pyatt, who planned a big east coast trip from Alabama. "So when you get there and they're not, now what do you do?"
Anything under the National Park Service was shut down, like the visitor center, Jamestown Island and the tours of it.
"I'm glad it's over and everything can start functioning normally," said Dan Roberts, who is on a country-wide tour of small cities, towns and national parks. Roberts has been in town for a week and a half.
"Basically I've been killing time until this place opened up, and this is the last of the trifecta," Roberts said.
Pyatt says Jamestowne wasn't the only park she couldn't get into. She ran into road blocks on Skyline Drive, Colonial Parkway and more.
"It makes you stop and re-plan your trip," she said. "That was the problem. We had plans and then they got changed."
When the parks shut down 16 days ago, businesses located in the parks did, too. Carrot Tree Kitchens' Yorktown location has a loyal client base. Glenn Helseth's restaurant was closed a week when he decided he had enough. Helseth decided to open up 10 days ago.
"The next day it exploded," he said. "Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, line out the door. People stood in the rain for two hours to join us."
He closed in the first place because the building the Carrot Tree is located in is run by the National Park Service.
"It's owned by the feds, I recognize that," explained Helseth. "But, I pay everything on this building."
Not every business forced to shutdown is like the Carrot Tree. Tourists like Pyatt found businesses closed everywhere in the last two weeks.
"It made my heart break for them," she said. "I was here on vacation, but this was their livelihood."
Even though Helseth didn't play by the rules and re-opened, his business is hurting. Both his Yorktown and Historic Jamestowne restaurants were affected by the shutdown. He lost an employee who needed work, and October is crucial to his business' success.
"In October, Jamestowne and Yorktown constitute nearly 80 percent of my business," said Helseth.
Helseth told WAVY. com has not received any official complaint about re-opening his business before the shutdown ended.
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