Tourism is an economic driver

Tourism is a major driver of the local economy in Manassas and the City has become widely recognized for its many special events, festivals and parades.  This past year more than 450,000 residents and visitors attended an event or visited one of the many attractions in Historic Downtown.  The City’s most recent Citizen Satisfaction Survey showed that 65% of residents were satisfied or very satisfied with the efforts to attract visitors and promote Historic Manassas and 69% were happy with efforts to continue the revitalization of Downtown.

The City is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to increase those ratings and joined the Prince William Chamber of Commerce in asking for help from Sen. Jeremy S. McPike (D) – Senate District 29 who represents Manassas.  He sponsored legislation during the 2019 Regular Session of the Virginia General Assembly which amended the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Act to authorize local special events licenses that permit the consumption of alcoholic beverages within designated areas up to 12 times annually.  “Previously the City could sponsor special events like Bands, Brews and Barbecue that permitted vendors to sell alcohol but participants were required to consume their drinks within the barriers set up by the event organizer,” said Sen. McPike.  “Now the City can designate its Downtown as a special event area and local restaurants can sell drinks that patrons can carry out to participate in activities or visit the shops.  This change helps local businesses and enhances the visitor experience.”

Manassas Happy Hour

Historic Manassas Inc. (HMI) is the second applicant in Virginia to receive one of the new licenses from the Virginia ABC Board.  This coming First Friday, September 6th, will be the first time it is used.  HMI President Patrick Langdon says “HMI supports the City by hosting many of the events like First Friday that make Manassas such a great place to live and visit.  We have participated in the revitalization of Historic Downtown for more than two decades and our Board of Directors is always looking for ways to spur economic activity that benefits local businesses and residents.”  In addition to First Fridays, HMI is considering using the special event license during Celebrate America (the Fourth of July), Cinco de Mayo, and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

The City of Manassas wants people to be aware of the new changes and to enjoy coming to Downtown but also wants to ensure event participants drink responsibly and obey the law.  Now, instead of using physical barriers to mark off the special event area where alcoholic beverages are allowed, the City will place signs and trash receptacles at key intersections clearly marking the limits for consumption.  Drinking alcohol outside of a restaurant (other than patio dining areas) at all other times of the year is still prohibited and only beverages contained in plastic or paper cups clearly displaying the name or logo of the business that sold it are permitted.  People are not otherwise allowed to drink alcohol from their own cups, glasses, bottles or cans.  Special events covered by the license will be advertised in advance and posted on VisitManassas.org, the City’s tourism website.

“The new permit will allow people to carry their drinks and move more freely around Downtown to better enjoy all the activities we offer during certain events,” said City Manager W. Patrick Pate.  “Our events are all intended to promote a family friendly atmosphere so we want people to be aware that the permit only applies at certain times and that there are still limits to where alcoholic beverages can be consumed.  We have made every effort to ensure that our restaurants are aware of the rules and to inform the public of these limitations.”