As beaches re-open, events remain cancelled

Local News

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — As beaches begin to re-open in Panama City Beach on Friday, big beach events originally scheduled for this weekend remain cancelled, including SandJam and the Seabreeze Jazz Festival.

Walter and Mona Davis have been sheltering in place in Montgomery, Alabama.

“One of the things we look forward to every year is coming to the Seabreeze Jazz Festival,” Mona said. “We’ve been coming for 16 years, it’s like a little getaway for us.”

Luckily, the Davis’s were refunded for their hotel rooms and can use their festival tickets for next year.

But according to a survey released this month by Bankrate, 62% of adults nationwide had to cancel plans due to the coronavirus. Of those, 37% have lost money on those cancellations because they couldn’t get refunds.

Rendy Lovelady, SandJam’s executive producer said that he refunded everyone’s tickets for the cancelled festival, and that the virus cost him almost seven figures. “You have a weather cancellation, you hit the insurance company up. There’s no epidemic or pandemic insurance to have,” he said.

Lovelady said SandJam brings in just shy of 60,000 people each year. He looked into rescheduling SandJam, but instead chose to focus on Gulf Coast Jam in the fall.

Lacee Rudd, Visit Panama City Beach’s public relations manager, said that the city is expecting $300 million in lost visitor spending due to travel restrictions. “The spring and summer travel seasons are tremendously important to us,” Rudd said.

Panama City Beach city council announced Thursday that event cancellation would extend through at least May 15.

Lovelady said that he does not expect the virus to cancel Gulf Coast Jam, but it will force them to restructure certain things about the festivals going forward to make sure people feel safe in a large group setting again.

He assured us that SandJam is “going strong for next year.”

The Davis’ are looking forward to enjoying their favorite food and bands at next year’s Jazz Fest as well, “but mostly the food,” Walter said.

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