CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The first weekend in May, just might feel like the closest Corpus Christi has had to a “normal weekend” since the pandemic started.
“Everybody’s so excited to be out and about," said Brett Oetting, President and CEO of Visit Corpus Christi. "You’re seeing people starting to hug. The fist bump is starting to go away, the hug is starting to come back.”
A number of events are going on in downtown Corpus Christi, specifically in the Sports, Entertainment and Arts District.
“It’s kind of a sense of getting back to normal," Brayla Thomas said, marketing and sales lead at Hurricane Alley Waterpark. "Like again, last year was really a hard year for everybody in general. But this year things are kind of starting to open back up, people are starting to come out. So, that’s definitely a good thing to see.”
Most notably, Buc Days is going on for 10 days and everything that comes with it. Professional Bull Riding, rodeo, carnival and the Wings Over South Texas Air Show scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
Also drawing attention has been Hurricane Alley. Only open for three weekends so far, but Thomas said they average over 1,000 people a day on those weekends.
“Last season was kind of a struggle for us just to get the numbers with Covid(-19) and all of that," she said. "But this year has definitely started off really good.”
Nearby you have the Harbor Playhouse set to debut the first auditioned play since the pandemic began. That will be put on over the weekends through May.
Local bars and breweries continue booking talent to perform, such as Brewster Street Ice House that has an act lined up every day over the weekend.
What does this all mean for the business of Corpus Christi? For starters, Oetting said the hotels downtown are all booked up this weekend.
“Visit Corpus Christi just hosted our annual event and award ceremony for the hospitality industry," he said. "We had 256 people in a sold out ballroom. Then you have Buc Days starting today. Hotels are sold out. Attractions are having record attendance.
It’s very exciting to see everything coming back and everybody that’s coming here, they spend money. And that money is contributing sales tax dollars to the community. So, we’re going to start to rebuild everything that happened with Covid(-19) by having all these visitors come here.”
Oetting added this boom started back in March during spring break. Every weekend has gradually gotten better for downtown business. This March, there were 59,000 more hotel rooms booked than there were last March.
Oetting said this weekend is a building block towards Memorial Day, the kickoff of summer. Oetting believes the city will see economic numbers like in 2019 and better. As the pandemic nears the end of the tunnel, he said people are going to want to let loose and take those vacations they couldn't last year. Some may want outdoor activities, some may want to fly which is why he said Corpus Christi would be the ideal destination.
Rounding out the weekend, if you didn’t get enough, the Hooks take Whataburger Field on Tuesday, for the first time in over a year.