By Forest Riggs
So far, so good: No hurricanes or storms have targeted Galveston and the upper Texas Coast. Of course, the area is not out of the woods just yet, as September is historically the worse month for potential disturbances reaching into the Gulf of Mexico. Fingers crossed and prayers are going up!
As the summer of 2021 comes to an end, it brings with it a bit of sadness as the pandemic has overshadowed what should have been a fantastic few months on the Island.
Although some things came back and there was some attempt at normality, the Island missed the mark — especially when it came to providing a fun and adventurous summer getaway. The crowds that normally blanket the sandy beaches did not come as enthusiastically as in the past. There were a few special event weekends that brought visitors to Galveston, but nothing like the past years. Eventually, restaurants and bars slowly began to fill again and even a few new ones opened after months of waiting.
Due to the pandemic, staffing seemed to present a great problem. Even now, many businesses are hurting because they are unable to fully staff and serve patrons. Just about anywhere one looks, they are sure to see a “HELP WANTED” sign in the window or door.
The Covid-19 monster has affected the Island in so many ways. Normally, this time of year, there is great planning and anticipation for several annual events that come in the fall each year. There is still great question and debate as to the fate of the Lone Star Rally, Dickens on the Strand, and even Mardi Gras 2022. Islanders and interested persons wait and watch for news and decisions regarding the events.
Alcohol consumption, barhopping, and pub-crawling seem to be some of the things that, once the vaccinations became available, interest and participation in shot up! Mask or no mask, the clubs around the Island filled and remain so as locals and visitors do their best to “drown” the PTSD that the pandemic has wrought. The local bar owners have done their very best to comply with precautions and regulations but still offer a place for drinks, gatherings, music, and more.
Even now, as the FDA opens the gate on the Pfizer vaccine and the CDC recommends a booster at six to eight months from the initial two doses, many folks are anxious about going out and participating in activities that involve gathering or crowds. Some still wear masks and others opt to not wear them. Many merchants post signs at entrances requesting that visitors and patrons wear a mask while on the premises. As you might imagine, this has caused a stir and sometimes an argument at some places.
Recently, while shopping in a local antique store, I could not help but overhear an older woman (probably in her seventies), going on and on to the store owner about why she would not get a vaccination.
“You know, that vaccine alters your DNA,” she said in a huffy manner. “Not only is a micro-chip shot into your body, but your DNA is forever changed.”
Upon hearing this absurd claim, I could not help but walk over and comment. Observing her be a little “long in the tooth,” I said, “Pardon me, but I could not avoid hearing your comment.”
She stopped in mid-sentence and glared at me, “So, what about it?”
I smiled through my mask (she was not wearing one) and said, “Aside from your false and idiotic claim about your DNA being altered, you don’t appear to be of the age to be passing along your DNA to anyone anymore.”
With a very red face, she screeched at me, “Well! I never!”
I chuckled and said, “Of that I’m sure, you should try it sometime!”
Oy vey. As good friend Peter Moore says, “They walk among us.”
There were a few good things that came with the summer of 2021. Finally, the Island got a Thai restaurant. After months of prep and dealing with the entangling red-tape that wannabe island businesses must endure, The Garden Thai Cuisine (2156 23rd Street) opened its doors in the downtown building that once housed the ever-popular Shrimp & Stuff before they relocated to their new 25th St. location. Since early August, islanders, and visitors have been feasting delicious Thai food and at very reasonable prices. Check it out.
For more dining pleasure and fun, 23rd Street Station Piano Bar (1706 23rd Street) started “Steak Night” on Sunday afternoons. For $20, patrons can get a delicious rib-eye steak and two sides, all prepared to the specific request of the purchaser. Quida Cook, the well-known chef, and restaurateur on the Island prepare the steaks and fixings on the patio of the club starting at 5 p.m.
Inside the popular club, the excellent music of Thomas Cokinos and/or Davey Wild brings fun and live entertainment to the venue. The steak and Sunday sing-along are very popular. Don’t miss this fantastic Island offering.
Wizzard Bar (2325 Church Street), an old watering hole formerly known as the Whiz got new owners, a face-lift, and lots of TLC. In its place, The Alibi Bar now offers a remodeled and clean interior, patio, jukebox, and great drink prices. Family-owned and operated, the bar is quickly becoming a favorite haunt for locals and visitors. The super-friendly staff goes above and beyond to make all feel welcome and at home in the neighborhood pub. The Alibi is a great new addition to already-thriving island nightlife.
Lastly, the cruise ships are back! With this comes an influx of island visitors, increased hotel-motel and restaurant revenues, and lots of people watching on the Strand. On a hot day, there is nothing better than a cold Bud Light, a table in front of Tola Mo’ Bettah Market (2208 Strand Street), and hours of people-watching!
No one is sure how long the fun will last, considering the rise in Covid cases and the increasing number of fatalities, and the continued politicizing of the mask and vaccinations. Galveston County is at a 57 percent fully vaccinated rate of individuals eligible for the vaccine.
Nonetheless, Galveston is still here and ready to offer some respite and fun. Get your shots, put on your mask and come on down!