Holy City landmarks reopen after shutdown deal struck
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) The government shutdown is over at least for now. The president signed a deal Wednesday night to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government through the beginning of next year.
That means thousands of federal employees went back to work Thursday.
And if you talk to tourists, they will tell you that they couldn't be happier that Charleston's famous landmarks are finally back open for business.
"I'm very happy that y'all are here today," said National Park Ranger Brent Everitt to tourists getting ready for their boat trip to Fort Sumter.
For the first time in more than two weeks, the boats were filled with tourists eager to head to the historic landmark.
"It is a relief," said North Carolina tourist James Champ. "I've always been kind of a history buff."
Champ was one of more than 100 passengers on board just one trip to the fort. Other boats carried as many as 250 people on Thursday.
Everitt was one of about 24 rangers furloughed locally.
"To be back here with people on the fort, visiting, learning about this very important period in our history is just incredible. It's great," said Everitt.
During the shutdown, the boats only carried half of the passengers says Ft. Sumter Tours president, Chip Campsen.
"The government shutdown dramatically affected our business," said Campsen.
Thursday was a different story.
"I think we've averaged about 140 to 150 a boat," said Campsen. "We've had a very smooth day."
And over at Fort Moultrie, business picked up right where it left off.
"The parking lots have been pretty full throughout the day," said Park Ranger Dawn Davis.
And rangers and tourists a like hope to see it continue.
"It's a great relief to welcome visitors back to the National Parks," said Everitt.
Park Rangers says it's still too early to tell how much the government shutdown cost them in revenue but say they expect even bigger crowds at Ft. Sumter and Ft. Moultrie over the weekend.