Norfolk cancels First Fridays for rest of 2021

Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Downtown Norfolk Council won’t have First Fridays for the rest of 2021.

The event seems to be a victim of its own success.

First Fridays was a big hit when it returned this summer, with many people packing Granby Street for the first event back in August. There was also one in September.

Officials say around 5,000 people attended each block party. That’s more than double the amount who typically attended First Fridays pre-pandemic.

Businesses loved the boost. We caught up with Aziz Winborne, owner of Norfolk Smoothie on Granby Street.

“First Friday has been amazing,” said Winborne. “The foot traffic, but more importantly just the community coming out, being able to just you know just feel like old times.”

Winborne said the First Fridays brought a lot of new customers to Norfolk Smoothie.

Officials with the council say they didn’t expect such large crowds and they needed to hit “pause” until spring to re-evaluate staffing and organization logistics.

“Everybody knows that staffing is challenging right now,” explained Jessica Kilner, the council’s marketing director. “So because of the great success and the huge volume of people that come out, we really just want to be able to manage it as effectively as possible. We had lots of discussions and decided it would make the most sense just to pause.”

Kilner said they believe what drew the large crowds was a change to the ABC license for the events. The new license allows businesses to sell their own food and alcohol during the block party. That wasn’t the case before.

The October ‘First Friday’ would have been the last of the year regardless. The council traditionally stops the block parties during the winter and resumes in spring.

“We hope that first Fridays will be back in April 2022 and they will look just like they did before with the people smiling and having a good time on Granby Street and supporting our businesses,” Kilner said.

For more local events in Hampton Roads, check out WAVY’s Living Local page.

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