Virginia couple watch wedding venue, Spirit of Norfolk, go up in flames


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Now the Spirit of Norfolk is beyond saving. All that’s left of the ship is a burnt shell.

For three decades, the Spirit of Norfolk has hosted thousands of events, including weddings.

The boat’s all-inclusive wedding package was sold to Katie Burgoyne and her fiancé Alex Maness on the spot.

“Everything was taken care of, so that was really a big motivation for us,” Burgoyne explained.

Burgoyne, who is a teacher at York County Schools, was outside for Field Day on Tuesday when her phone started exploding with photos and videos of the Spirit of Norfolk. Her wedding venue was on fire.

“I kept telling everyone that I wouldn’t panic until I found out what was going on. I kept thinking that as long as it didn’t sink, everything would be fine,” Burgoyne told WFXR’s sister station WAVY during a Zoom call with Maness and daughter Audrey by her side.

Burgoyne and Maness met online during the pandemic and had an instant connection.

“He’s my soothing partner, so he was like it was just a little fire. It looks like it’s going to be okay,” Burgoyne said.

Their wedding is in six months.

Katie Burgoyne and her fiancé Alex Maness, June 8, 2022 (Courtesy photo – Katie Burgoyne)

“Last night was like ‘oh, the whole bottom is on fire, but it’s at the shipyard, so what’s the worst that can happen? So this morning, there are no more windows. The whole exterior of the boat is a metal hull,” recalls Maness.

The couple told us that positivity and humor helped them through this unfortunate event.

“Of course we were just grateful to everyone who was there, especially those kids, they got down, everyone was safe, they were able to tow it away from a public space. My family is a bunch of pranksters, so they’re like ‘just put a fresh coat of paint on it, it’ll be ready,’” Burgoyne said.

The yacht spent most of Tuesday on fire, slowly smoldering. A press conference on the status of the yacht is scheduled to be held on Wednesday morning.

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