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St. Paddy's Day celebrations show economic recovery in SWFL

Businesses: Sales are booming after 2020 shutdown
Posted at 7:11 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 19:11:04-04

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — St. Patrick’s Day marks the two-year anniversary of when bars and restaurants in Florida were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, people are back celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Southwest Florida, and local businesses couldn’t be more thankful.

Thousands of people were out having a good time — at parades and parties from Naples to Port Charlotte. For many, it was the first time since COVID brought the economy to a halt two years ago.

And while these people are happy to be here, local businesses are even happier.

“We have gotten through the pandemic, and this is kinda our first big re-opening since everyone has came back out,” said Kurt Brown, owner of Village Brewhouse at Fisherman’s Village in Punta Gorda.

Hundreds came out to the area for an all-day-long St. Patrick’s party at Fisherman’s Village that had people feeling like they did pre-pandemic.

“It’s wonderful. It’s just like how it used to be,” said Port Charlotte resident Alice Casey. “We’re just glad to be here and having a good time.”

And it was a good time for the 40 shops and restaurants at Fisherman’s Village who reaped the benefits.

“Sales have been wonderful,” said Kathy Burnam, marketing manager for Fisherman’s Village. “Every (shop is) experiencing a great increase this year, and we’re thankful for that. I think it’s going to continue and we’ll see tourism hitting record numbers in Southwest Florida.”

Those numbers have businesses feeling like it’s 2019 — the last time Fisherman’s Village was able to hold a St. Patrick’s Day party.

Last weekend Naples brought back it’s St. Patrick’s Day parade — which began more than 40 years ago — for the first time since 2019.

After the shutdown came on this day two years ago, business owners say the economy is finally back.

“It’s been our best season ever, even (before the) pandemic,” Brown said. “Things have just been amazing. Florida has been a great place to be.”