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Something in the Water fans planning ‘peaceful sit-down’ on the beach
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Something in the Water fans planning ‘peaceful sit-down’ on the beach

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The Happy singer, who grew up in the coastal city, wrote a letter to Virginia Beach City Manager Patrick Duhaney on Tuesday in which he explained that he also decided to withdraw the festival, which was launched in 2019, due to the "toxic energy" in the city.

The words spell it in a post on the Something In The Water Music Festival’s Facebook group: “We want to be a part of the SOLUTION.”

Fans of the star-studded 2019 festival took to social media last week when it surfaced that Pharrell Williams wasn’t bringing the event back to Virginia Beach.

They decided to hold a peaceful sit-in on the beach Nov. 6, to draw attention to Williams’ concerns about the city and to show the musician they support having the festival again in Virginia Beach.

Williams, who grew up in Virginia Beach, hasn’t offered a clear reason for canceling the festival. In a letter to the city, however, he wrote that Virginia Beach was run with a “toxic energy” and cited his disappointment with what he described as the city’s inaction after his cousin was shot and killed by a police officer in March. An investigation is ongoing.

Fans cheer as Pusha-T performs during the Something in the Water festival in April 2019. Citing a "toxic energy" in Virginia Beach, organizer Pharrell Williams has opted to not bring the festival back. Fans plan a "sit-down" next month to show support for the star musician and Virginia Beach native.  Jonathon Gruenke/staff file

Fans cheer as Pusha-T performs during the Something in the Water festival in April 2019. Citing a "toxic energy" in Virginia Beach, organizer Pharrell Williams has opted to not bring the festival back. Fans plan a "sit-down" next month to show support for the star musician and Virginia Beach native. Jonathon Gruenke/staff file

Charmaine Cannon and other administrators of the grassroots Facebook group polled its 16,000 members on what they could do to show support for Williams.

“We’re understanding of his position and the decision,” Cannon, 49, said in a phone interview Wednesday morning. “We love Pharrell; we love the festival.”

She said the sit-in’s organizers hope that it will mirror “the mood of the festival.”

“We just want a peaceful sit-down,” she said. “We don’t want to pour gasoline on a fire.”

The plan is to gather on the beach at 3rd Street, where the festival’s main concerts were held, she said. A time has not been set.

Cannon, who has family in Virginia Beach, is from Richmond and has lived in Georgia since 2020. She’s an avid festivalgoer and went to Something in the Water, which she described as the best one she’s ever attended.

“With him having it right on the ocean, there was beauty in it,” Cannon said. “It was magical. And to have all of our original Virginia Beach celebrities there was icing on the cake.”

The Facebook fan group launched in the weeks leading up to the 2019 festival as a way to help ticketholders make the most of the event. Members offered tips on parking and the ways to navigate the festival grounds.

In recent days, it’s become a place for people to share their thoughts about Williams’ criticism of city leaders.

“No justice. No peace,” one member commented.

“Let this motivate the people to enact change,” wrote another.

Cannon hopes the sit-in will help bring more attention to Williams’ concerns and provide an outlet for his legion of fans.

She’s also believes that Something in the Water will return to Virginia Beach when the situation improves. No matter where it lands, Williams’ supporters will be first in line for tickets, she said.

“He can have the festival on the moon,” Cannon said. “The fans will follow him anywhere.”

Stacy Parker, 757-222-5125, stacy.parker@pilotonline.com

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