Manassas street festival

Crowd fills the street in downtown Manassas in this 2018 file photo. Historic Manassas, Inc., is seeking a way for downtown restaurants to sell alcohol beverages that could be carried in a designated area downtown during a dozen community events a year.

Historic Manassas, Inc., which attracted 381,542 attendees to more than 50 events last year, envisions a future where downtown restaurants can sell alcohol in plastic cups that customers can consume outside, as long as they stay within the designated downtown area. 

The nonprofit is applying for a local special events license from the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, said Debbie Haight, executive director of Historic Manassas. Haight said the license could be in place for the First Friday event in August. 

The boundaries of the designated area where customers can walk outside with alcohol from on-premise permanent restaurants will have to be approved by the Manassas City Council and the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, said Haight. 

During events, signs will outline where the designated area ends, and people can only consume alcoholic beverages if the beverages are purchased from a permanent restaurant within the designated downtown area, Haight said. The plastic cup will have to have the restaurant’s logo on it. 

“They can take it outside the business,” she said. “They can go listen to music at the Harris Pavilion, as long as it’s in the designated area.”

If awarded the license, Historic Manassas can have 12 events yearly where customers can walk freely in the designated downtown area with their alcoholic beverages. 

“Once we get through the process, once the area is defined, then we’re going to pull everyone together and discuss what the 12 events will be,” Haight said. 

Haight said the goal of obtaining the license is to attract more visitors to walk around downtown Manassas during special events. 

“The plans would be obviously to get more people into downtown, to be able to open it up and have more performances, more music going on in the street, for people to have the relaxed atmosphere and to enjoy the different pieces of the downtown, that’s ultimately our goal,” Haight said.

Haight updated the council about the process at its meeting on Monday. 

“I think this is a great opportunity to help make Manassas even more welcoming,” Mayor Hal Parrish said. “I think you are wise to coordinate and communicate with as many people as you can; the police department, restaurants and others.”

(3) comments


I’m behind this 100%... almost brings a tear to the eye. God bless America and Manassas!


I'd be okay for this as long as something is in there requiring the businesses to police all trash that will come from this. People are slobs and will not hesitate to litter the surrounding areas. I do see this making Old Town Manassas less family friendly on weekend nights during these events.


Let's see what problems this causes for the police department.

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