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Report: Civil War commemoration well worth the money

Sunday - 11/20/2011, 3:19pm  ET

WASHINGTON - Despite soaring temperatures that cut into attendance, a report on the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's First Battle of Manassas labels the event a success.

The city of Manassas spent more than $400,000 to mark the occasion, and revenue from the commemoration fell short of that total. Still, thousands showed up for the four-day event in July, despite temperatures that hit above 100 degrees.

"It was never an issue about whether or not we were covering costs or making direct money," says Elizabeth Via-Gossman, director of community development for the city. "It was all about economic impact."

Revenues for restaurants and hotels did increase compared to last year, according to the report, and sales tax revenue was up by 55 percent. Via-Gossman says some stores in the Old Town area of Manassas recorded their biggest sales days ever during the commemoration -- even topping the holiday shopping season.

Via-Gossman says substantial national coverage also put Manassas on the map, which will bring payoffs in the future. And the residual effect of increased awareness about the city and its historical events will last for a while.

"We've already had numerous requests for other living history, smaller events," she says.

WTOP's Hank Silverberg contributed to this report. Follow Hank and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)