Thanksgiving Eve is just as profitable as NYE, say bar managers

TAMPA, Fla - It is standing room only at the Patio on MacDill Avenue.  That was at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Among the hundreds at the bar, you will find Joey Martinez, his sister Valerie and ten of their friends.  It has become tradition for the Martinez clan to meet up at the South Tampa waterhole every Thanksgiving Eve.  They come to share memories, catch up and throw back some beers.

"It is like a reunion," explained Martinez.  "Friends from out of town, my family, friends from high school [are all here]."

There is no need for invitations.  Everyone just knows to show up, even Martinez's friends from Boston and Denver.

"Running into people you haven't seen in a long time, it's a big night to go out," said Valerie Martinez.

Bars are cashing in on what has come to be called, "Blackout Wednesday."

"We have to be ready with staffing and we overstaffed a little bit just so we can be ready for the storm," said Tiffany Thompson, manager of Irish 31 in Hyde Park.

Bar managers told ABC Action News Thanksgiving Eve is just as profitable as New Year's Eve.

While bars ordered extra booze and food, law enforcement officers are looking for drunk drivers.

"The number of people killed in drunken driving crashes over the Thanksgiving holiday period, according to The National Highway Traffic Administration, spiked by 30 percent in 2010 compared with the rest of the year.

In 2010, the agency reported that 174 people were killed in drunk driving crashes during Thanksgiving week, starting Thanksgiving Eve.  The bulk of those crashes occurred in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day, the agency reports.

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