Beach goers soak up unofficial start to summer in Virginia Beach

Thousands of people headed to Virginia Beach to kick off the unofficial start of summer as...
Thousands of people headed to Virginia Beach to kick off the unofficial start of summer as COVID-19 restrictions lifted across the state.(NBC12)
Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 7:16 PM EDT
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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WWBT) - Thousands taking advantage of the Memorial Day Weekend heading to beaches, including Virginia Beach – with some experiencing their first vacation in more than a year.

Looking out across the Virginia Beach oceanfront – it certainly felt like 2019 and not the last year the world lived through.

Vacationers once again pounding the pavement as many head to soak up that summer-like fun.

“I just feel super relieved,” said Kaitlyn O’Leary, of New Jersey.

O’Leary, a University of Richmond student, said last year was rough not being able to have a “real” summer.

“To have this and it’s such a nice day; it’s not too crowded,” she said. “It’s just a really nice way to start things off and end the semester.”

“I think it’s very nice for me to get away,” added Cameron Chinquee, of New York. “School is very tiring.”

Thirteen-year-old Chinquee spent her school year virtually and in-person after dealing with a serious lockdown in New York City.

It is why this vacation could not come soon enough for her and her family.

“It’s just uplifting to be out and to see people, be around people, talk to people and actually eat outside,” said her mother Kelly Ann Eldermire.

“If you go to the restaurants, they’re now packed again and it’s just a really good, healthy sight,” said Jeff Garnett, of Louisa County.

Garnett and his wife have a vacation home in the area. However, last year they were not able to make any trips out to Virginia Beach as the facility asked non-residents to stay home.

“As a courtesy, we did,” he said.

Meanwhile, all COVID-19 restrictions were lifted at 12:01 a.m. Friday; some folks still getting used to the new freedom.

“You don’t have to wear that if you don’t want to,” said Patty at the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum. “We’re taking smiles today.”

It is certainly a happy day for those at the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum. Last year the museum, dedicated to the maritime efforts and lifeguards, had to limit its operations.

However, this season, the staff is ready to share all the history the building holds, and what may come through its doors.

“One of my favorite things about working here is the people who come in and the stories they have about the wreck or a family member who had worked in the service,” said Dana Sizemore, Executive Director of the museum.

During the pandemic, Sizemore said they were able to go through the items stored in the attic which resulted in new finds for several of the employees.

“This is from a wreck in the Lynnhaven; it dates back to the late 1700s I believe,” Sizemore said pointing to a swivel gun.

It is one of the many artifacts with a story behind it, hoping to attract fellow history enthusiasts.

“A gentleman came in and he actually had a musket ball and cannon from that wreck, just randomly,” Sizemore said.

According to Sizemore, the man donated those items to the museum.

As businesses try to navigate these new freedoms once again, many people are ready to get back to the new normal.

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