NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. -- It's a holiday tradition that's grown into one massive street party. But this year, Thanksgiving at Pete's Bar is in jeopardy.
"There was a bartender working on Thanksgiving Day. Absolutely no one was in here so he called some of his relatives and said why don't you come down and have a Bloody Mary with me," recalled owner Nancy Jensen of the very first party.
It's evolved 27 years later into a huge holiday tradition for thousands of local families, friends, and businesses. But this year Jensen was told it won't be allowed to happen. When she called the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco to get her yearly permit, she was told her Thanksgiving Day party isn't legal.
"I said, 'Excuse me, we've done it for several years.' And she just got louder and louder to the point she was yelling, 'You can't do that, it's illegal.'"
A devastating blow for Jensen, her bar and the community tradition so many have come to love.
"I think it's really taking something from the community," said Tony Schiele, who has attended the festivities in years past.
And the financial impact would be detrimental. "That day pays our property taxes among other things," said Jensen.
Action News immediately got on the phone with AB&T to find out why that permit was denied. And less than an hour later, Jensen got a call back. They told her to fill out the paperwork and said they would try to work something out. It was news good enough to put a smile on even the mayor's face.
"My problem with what had happened was it wasn't a matter of making a mistake don't let something this big come along and something that's so important to our small businesses," said Harriet Pruette.
So in the meantime, Jensen's staying optimistic the tradition can live to see year 28.
"We're just hoping some wonderful fairy godmother will drop out of the sky and help us however they can," she said.
Jensen says if the final answer is no, they won't even be able to open on Thanksgiving because they won't be able to handle the crowds.
She thinks they will know for sure Tuesday whether the party can be a go.