MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Saturday night was a busy night for downtown Memphis, with COVID-19 restrictions loosening, the Grizzlies taking on the Utah Jazz at the FedexForum, and it’s Memorial Day weekend.
Officials are doing all they can to keep everyone safe downtown. If you’re heading downtown, you want to make sure you have five dollars on hand because that’s how much it’s going to cost to get on Beale Street.
They have the street blocked off and a line heading down the corner to get on Beale. This is all in order to hopefully prevent chaos. But even with the new measures, people and business owners say they’re just happy to be here.
“People are going to be happy to be out. It’s a lot of positivity going, and I think are ready to get back to normal a little bit,” said Dwayne Benjamine, who’s visiting Beale Street.
The sounds of live music bounced off the buildings and businesses were filled with eager customers.
It’s a very different Memorial Day weekend than what we saw one year ago during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joellyn Sullivan, owner of Silky Sullivan’s, said she and her employees have prepared for what some may say is the busiest time for downtown since the start of the pandemic.
“We got a playoff game tonight. We got another playoff game on Monday. We got a parade down the street tomorrow. It’s May. We’re back. We’re rolling,” Sullivan said.
But larger crowds come with more responsibility.
Starting at 10, people will have to pay a five-dollar fee to get on Beale Street.
The downtown neighborhood association said there will be an increase in law enforcement and added traffic control points throughout downtown.
Many people we spoke to visiting Beale said while they appreciate the increased security, they’re just excited to be downtown.
“I would describe it as a blessing because it’s an indication that the world and the country is opening back up and we’re getting through what is probably the darkest time we’ve seen in our lifetime,” said Calvin Payne, who is visiting Beale Street.
And it’s not just the Memorial Day weekend holiday that’s bringing out the crowds.
Grizzlies fans near and far are also downtown to support and watch as the Memphis Grizzlies take on the Utah Jazz for Game 3 at the FedexForum.
“We’re rooting for the Grizzlies now. Come on now. Is that even a question? That’s not even a question. That’s a trick question. Grind all day,” said Dwayne Benjamine.
Now the Downtown Neighborhood Association’s president wants people coming downtown to know the traffic control points are not road closures.
So, if you live downtown or work downtown and need to get through that point, he encourages you to just pull up to the officers and let them know and they’ll let you in.