STAUNTON — It's the day before Thanksgiving and all through the house not a creature was stirring, except for in a drink glass.
Thanksgiving Eve, or Drinksgiving, is not really one of the most acknowledged of the major holidays but is sometimes the most celebrated.
It's a time when people return to their hometowns after long periods away, seeing old, but familiar faces and having fun with friends before settling down into family traditions the following day.
There's a certain energy that can be felt the night before Thanksgiving. It's a hint of nostalgia, a dash of excitement and a serving of adventure. Cheersing friends with a couple of drinks and good food until the late-night hours can be a social high that kicks off the holiday.
For the Clocktower in downtown Staunton, it's one of the busiest nights of the year for restaurant and club.
According to Felicia Childress, brand manager and event coordinator for Tempest (Clocktower's night club that was renamed prior to COVID), they open the club on a night that typically isn't open in order to offer live music and a DJ.
"Some travel back into town to be with their families so Thanksgiving Eve is a night to meet up with old friends," she said. "Most of the public doesn’t like to cook the night before Thanksgiving, so our food sales skyrocket."
Baja Bean Assistant Manager Hannah Lynch said they're usually pretty busy on Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving day.
"I’ve noticed that a lot of people come in after being stuck with in-laws and family all day long," she said. "Also, we tend to get a good bit of people that want to catch a slight buzz before they go Black Friday shopping."
Here are some places to hit up in Staunton and Waynesboro:
Clocktower/Tempest — 27 W. Beverley St.
Baja Bean Co. — 9 W. Beverley St. (bar side on Augusta Street)
Byers Street Bistro — 18 Byers St.
Redbeard Brewing Company — 120 S. Lewis St.
Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company — 103 W. Beverley St.
Heritage on Main — 309 W. Main St.
River Burger Bar — 137 N. Wayne Ave.
E&J's — 2800 W. Main St.
Basic City Beer — 1010 E. Main St.
Seven Arrows — 2508 Jefferson Highway
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In 2019 there was a 173% increase in shots sales on Thanksgiving Eve compared to the Wednesday prior, according to Upserve.com. It's hard to compare statistic from 2020, since the majority of people were staying home due to COVID-19. Thanksgiving Eve in 2019 had sales increase 31% on average from the Wednesday before, up 23% from the same time period in 2018, Upserve said.
The Midwest, Northeast and the South were the biggest eaters and drinker in 2019, Upserve said.
"Restaurants and bars saw a 23% increase in guest count on Drinksgiving when compared to the previous Wednesday in November 2018," the Upserve study said. "When comparing 2018 to 2017, more people were drinking beer, wine and liquor in restaurants on Thanksgiving Eve, suggesting that the night is only rising in popularity."
Safety first — find a safe way home, don't drive drunk
It's also a time to be safe — especially if drinking is involved. According to the United States Department of Transportation, from 2014 to 2018, 138 drivers involved in fatal crashes on Thanksgiving Eve (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) were alcohol-impaired, and over the entire holiday period (6 p.m. the Wednesday before Thanksgiving through 5:59 a.m. the Monday after Thanksgiving) more than 800 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes.
During the Thanksgiving holiday, more than three times as many drivers were involved in fatal crashes were alcohol-impaired during nighttime hours than during the day, the U.S. Department of Transportation said. In the past five years, 47% of those drivers involved in fatal crashes were between the ages of 21 and 34 and impaired by alcohol.
Laura Peters is the trending topics reporter at The News Leader. Have a news tip on local trends or businesses? Or a good feature? You can reach reporter Laura Peters (she/her) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her @peterslaura. Subscribe to The News Leader at newsleader.com.
This article originally appeared on Staunton News Leader: Thanksgiving Eve: The holiday for social drinkers and bar goers