Coronavirus: Jacksonville beaches empty on Thanksgiving because of COVID-19

Holiday Traditions Adapt to New Normal

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. —

The street in front of Pete’s Bar on Neptune Beach is normally packed with thousands of customers celebrating Thanksgiving. This year is nearly empty and Pete’s is closed for the holiday.

The bar announced on Facebook at the beginning of the month that it was canceling the Pete’s Thanksgiving Celebration because “it would be impossible to hold the event and maintain social distancing.”

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The event has been a Neptune Beach tradition for 35 years.

While they couldn’t host it in 2020, the owners announced on Facebook that they are in talks with the City of Neptune Beach to hold a delayed Thanksgiving celebration in 2021.

Some locals still showed up, hoping the bar would be opened.

“It’s something we look forward to every year. We thought there might be people showing up like we did. We’re keeping the tradition alive,” John Cicchino said. He’s lived at the beach for 15 years and said it’s always been a tradition to go to Pete’s Bar on Thanksgiving.

Some traditions are still going on including Deck the Chairs which kicked off last Saturday. The event’s organizer said they made changes for COVID-19 including getting rid of the fences to encourage spectators to fill the lawn as well and encourage social distancing.

The chairs light up from 5 p.m. until 1 a.m. every day.