Things may not look like they have in years past around here, but they’re looking as close to normal as we’ve seen in a long time.

“People want to get behind something, and when folks are winning and they’re doing as well as they’re doing, like the Bolts winning the championship, even with the Rays and what they’re doing with the World Series, people get excited about that,” said Steve Hayes, president and CEO of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.

And this past weekend, 20,000 people had the chance to get behind the Firestone Grand Prix in person.

“Whatever kind of revenue streams that are coming through is always a positive one,” said Christopher Ciecierski, senior manager at The Birchwood.

Ciecierski says even though the Firestone Grand Prix could only allow less than half of their normal amount of spectators due to COVID-19 safety precautions, The Birchwood Inn still saw a sold out weekend, and wait times for its attached bars and restaurants continued to grow throughout the night.

He hopes this sets the stage as we head into the winter months.

“Hopefully the snowbirds will see that it’s okay and they’re all going to come down because that is a majority of our business down here,” said Ciecierski.

And as events like these reach far and wide, with safety measures in place, of course, things could return back to a true normal sooner rather than later.

“You take this last weekend where you had so many things going on in downtown St. Pete, it just kind of makes you go through and say, ‘God these are the things we really like about our communities,’ and hopefully these are the things we start to see coming back,” Hayes said.

Tourism numbers for this past weekend are still being calculated and will be released in the coming weeks.