'Light at the end of the tunnel:’ Titusville businesses grateful for launch crowds

Titusville Bed & Breakfast fully booked this weekend

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – The smell of coffee lingered in the air inside the Casa Coquina Del Mar Bed and Breakfast in Titusville Sunday morning ahead of SpaceX’s Crew 1 mission launch after its owner Ginny Fitzpatrick served breakfast to guests, fully booked this weekend.

“We have been fully booked since Thursday,” she laughed behind her mask. “We are fully booked tomorrow, too.”

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Fitzpatrick said her business is down at least 60% this year due to the pandemic, but believes the astronaut launches, both in May and this weekend, are what kept her business alive.

“These shots in the arm for the launches really help us a lot,” she added.

It’s not only been a tough year for the Space Coast town of Titusville, but a near decade since the end of the Space Shuttle program. However, since private space exploration has moved in, tourists like Craig Gleason from Oregon are coming back.

“It’s historic,” he said. “It’s great to be back launching here.”

Across the street, Tom Venzo sets up a table with a large pot of boiled peanuts ready to sell for a few extra bucks.

“I put pearl onions in my peanuts and people love them,” he said. “I boiled them up last night and I’m here to sell them for the launch.”

Venzo has live in Titusville for 30 years and knows what the crowds will be like on Sunday, compared to the past couple of years.

“The end of the Space Shuttle program was heartbreaking. This whole town fell apart because they really depended on that,” Venzo said.

But he knows it’s changing back - with officials expecting crowds upwards of 250,000 Sunday.

“It makes me feel confident in the survival in this town and the whole space program,” Venzo added, echoing what Fitzpatrick said.

“When this is happening it’s kind of like a light at the end of the tunnel,” Fitzpatrick said.