‘Wilmington is back’: Summer 2021 off to a very different start than summer 2020

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Memorial Day unofficially marks the start of the summer each year and this year people seem to be extra thankful to be able to spend the holiday weekend with loved ones following a year of COVID-19.

“It’s been a long hard year and Wilmington is back and we’re a part of that now,” Leland resident Paul Potito said.

Downtown Wilmington was bustling on Friday night, with many people walking the streets and dining outside; a stark contrast from this time last year when businesses were closed or only offering delivery or curbside pick up.

“Last summer we spent a lot of time inside so it’s really nice to not only be outside but also to be out in the businesses around town that I’ve always loved and loved to support,” Wilmington resident Bethany Seagle said.

“It’s just great to see people out again after the pandemic and people enjoying life,” Leland resident Ron Deaton said.

Some not only enjoying life, people like Wilmington residents April and Ian Radford celebrating their third wedding anniversary.

“We’re going out for dinner!” April said. “We didn’t get to do that last year,” Ian added.

The couple says it feels like everyone is happier, and relieved, following a very difficult year.

“I’ve missed seeing people, making eye contact with them, smiling, talking…just being close to them,” April said.

“You feel like you’re part of the community, you know? Nobody’s being standoffish, like oh my God do you have this thing? Now everyone’s willing to interact with you,” Ian said.

Many are optimistic, cautiously so, to see vaccination rates going up, case numbers going down, and looking forward to summer 2021 being filled with much-needed time spent with friends and family.

“We seem to be headed in the right direction to the point where we can kinda put this in the review mirror,” Vermont resident Chris Haessly said.

As a reminder that many mentioned downtown on Friday night, the Memorial Day holiday is a time to remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice while fighting for our country.

WWAY will be covering various Memorial Day events this weekend and on Monday.

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