Thousands attend Hartford Convention Center for Bridal Expo, volleyball tournament this weekend

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Two large events brought in 20,000 people to the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford this weekend for a Bridal Exposition and a volleyball tournament.

While these events bring back a sense of normalcy, the pandemic and Omicron continue to linger in the state.

One couple, Sam and Emma Cain, just booked a location for their wedding reception. They were supposed to get married last Valentine’s Day, and still did, but the pandemic forced them to postpone their party.

“We can party this year and next year and celebrate our love every anniversary,” Sam told WTNH.

The Cains weren’t the only ones who had to reschedule. The same went for the vendors. Mike Manos, of the DJ company Torgo Entertainment, only worked eight of the 30 weddings they were supposed to in 2020. In 2021, they didn’t have any until May. The cancellations keep coming with the recent COVID surge across the Northeast.

“Most of the business I’ve lost, I know that I will not recoup that,” Manos said.

Manos, as well as other special event companies, are taking advantage of Expos like this one, which was cancelled last year. He explained that “we’re all scrambling, trying to figure out how we are supposed to cope with this.”

While organizer Dennis Jenks anticipated a smaller turnout than pre-pandemic years, he still hoped for the best, noting, “we’re getting back in business, this is a great thing.”

As far as safety measures, they’re following the local guidance. Hartford just reinstated a mask mandate last week.

The same goes for the New England Region Volleyball Tournament, with the exception of players while on the court. Commissioner Dave Peixoto said they held the event last summer at a different facility and was excited to return in 2022.

“They’ve learned to play with this thing and how to handle it,” Peixoto said.

Despite the spike in COVID cases, parents and players alike feel it’s time to move forward. One parent, Mike Perry, who has a son playing in the tournament from Hopkinton, Rhode Island, said, “we can’t be in a closet forever.”

“You only get to play sports for so long so it’s really important for us to be our here,” a player from the Windsor team, Mark Chernyak, said.

The bridal expo continues on Sunday, and the volleyball tournament goes on for two more weekends.

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