June 1, 2023

Behind the Scenes: Six City Employees Who Make Festival Season Happen

Meet a few of the City workers who have a special role in helping big events come together
Jody Harp

Special events are an exciting part of living in and visiting Virginia Beach. Countless City employees work behind the scenes to ensure big events like Jackalope Fest, Beach It! and the Neptune Festival run smoothly.

The following six City employees represent just a few of the people who help festival season in Virginia Beach come together.

Traffic Management Operations Supervisor Jody Harp

In the Department of Public Works, hundreds of employees orchestrate festival logistics in addition to their regular duties. Among them is Jody Harp (pictured above), traffic management operations assistant superintendent, who says he’s a “behind-the-scenes kind of guy.”

Overseeing a division that maintains highway signs, roadway markings and bridges, Jody and his team work closely with Police, Traffic Engineering and the Resort Management Office to ensure attendees get to and from an event smoothly. This is an especially large undertaking during Something In The Water and the Shamrock Marathon, where miles of boardwalk and roads are closed.

Implementing each event’s transportation plan can include setting up road barrels and barricades or calling the Traffic Management Center to request stoplights stay green longer in backed-up areas.

“We can do the planning, but I couldn’t do a whole lot without the field guys doing their part,” Jody said. “They’re the ones that make it happen.”

Grounds Crew Leader Greg Benitez

After 22 years working for Parks & Recreation, Grounds Crew Leader Greg Benitez still gets excited about festival season. “People are coming out, checking out the Oceanfront,” he said. “It brings me joy and excitement.”

Greg Benitez

Assigned to the Oceanfront year round, his team assists with landscaping and maintaining 110 flagpoles in the resort area.

During festival season, Greg’s team freshens up gardens with flowers and trees, installs trash cans and hangs banners from 5th to 31st streets. The banners, he says, are his favorite part.

“I love the decorations and the colors the banners have,” he said. “It looks good. It looks clean. I love it!”

Plumber Ray Shoop

As a plumber in the Public Works Department, Ray Shoop’s work orders involve more than bathrooms and kitchens. He and his team weatherize and maintain every restroom, outdoor shower, foot wash, and water fountain along the Boardwalk.

Ray Shoop

When special events come to town, Ray’s team also provides the water lines that food vendors use for cooking and drinking. During the event, they’re ready to fix any leaks or handle any water emergencies that arise.

“We try to have all the parts and supplies handy in case something happens. That way we’re able to respond and get the water back up and running in a timely manner,” he said.

“I feel a sense of accomplishment knowing my service is helping people,” Ray said. “It makes me feel good.”

Work Zone Safety Engineer Rose Harrell

On a normal day in Traffic Engineering, Public Works employee Rose Harrell’s job ensures traffic can move freely past work zones and construction areas. When festivals and special events block roadways or sidewalks, she masterminds those logistics too.

Rose Harrell

Working closely with Traffic Operations, Rose’s role involves the high-level planning of moving cars and people safely through detours. “We make sure we’ve got traffic flowing correctly. Then we work with Traffic Ops to make it happen,” she said.

Rose says this partnership is an important dynamic. “I think having that special bond between us really helps to make things run smoothly,” she said. “We’ve become friends over it, and I think it makes us a special team.”

Media & Communications Coordinator Julie Ann Sanchez

Working in the Communications Department, Media & Communications Coordinator Julie Ann Sanchez keeps the public informed about City-related news and events.

Julie Ann Sanchez

During festival season, she works with Community Engagement, Public Affairs and social media teams to provide key information to the media and the public. She also has a hand in coordinating the City’s Be In The Know newsletter and updating the City’s events website, which keep residents and visitors informed throughout the year.

As a music lover, Julie Ann enjoys watching big festivals come together. “Seeing the crowds enjoying the music, hanging out on the Boardwalk, feeling the positive vibe—that all makes it satisfying,” she said.

Electrician Randy Flora

Serving at the Oceanfront, Randy Flora is one of the electricians in Public Works who keeps the lights on and the music playing during special events.

Randy Flora

His team’s regular duties involve maintaining 50+ electrical panels and 2,100 streetlights in the high-traffic Resort Area. For a festival, they also prepare the concert stages, set up A/V equipment, and power the Christmas lights along the Boardwalk.

As a lifelong Virginia Beach resident who has worked as an electrician for Virginia Beach City and Schools for 38 years, Randy takes time to enjoy the events he helps make possible.

“I’ve lived here all my life, and it’s something that means a lot to me,” he said. “It just gives you a sense of pride knowing you’re a part of it.”

To learn more about job opportunities at the City of Virginia Beach, visit virginiabeach.gov/careers.

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