New London businesses deal with impact of summer festivals going virtual

New London

NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH)– The usual sights and sounds of Sailfest won’t be filling New London’s waterfront park this July. The pandemic has shut down many in person plans which usually bring in hundreds of thousands of visitors.

“Oh it’s crazy, way busier than any other time. That’s like we like to call it our Christmas around here,” said Danielle Sullivan, Owner of Fatboy’s.

Many of the bars see a boost in business that weekend. Downtown restaurants say they are not as impacted by the crowds but they are glad to see them.

“All different people, at least we get a chance for other people from different towns to come and see the restaurant,” said Chanmany Noi, Owner of Jasmine Thai restaurant. 

She enjoys the added exposure to out-of-towners but believes she will still be busy like most summer weekends.

“We doing okay,” said Noi. “We still have regular customers.”

Both Sailfest and the Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival, which usually brings in a pretty impressive Navy ship to Fort Trumbull State Park in September, will now go virtual. Most events can be viewed online lessening foot traffic on those weekends.

“Of course we’re all disappointed. But we’re going to get through it together,” said Sullivan. “You know they’re coming up with other plans. We’re just gonna work it out. See what happens.”

Sullivan says a virtual fireworks display will go off July 11, the Saturday night of the Sailfest weekend and she’s excited it can still be seen off her back deck.

Fatboy’s not only has a deck but it also has a big yard out back and it plans to set up a big screen so customers can watch the virtual fireworks.

“Whoever’s ready to come out with their masks, six feet apart, that’s what we’re all about,” said Sullivan.

She wants visitors to know even though summer events will look different this year downtown New London is still open for business.

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