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PORTSMOUTH -- When the day began Saturday, so did tolling at the Midtown and Downtown Tunnels

As cars moved through the tubes, demonstrators took the opportunity to show their disgust about the fares drivers pay at the river crossings that have been toll-free for decades.

'If there is a way that we can get across the river without paying them, I would do it. If I could get a bunch of balloons and carry me across, that would be fine,' said one protestor.

Portsmouth Mayor Kenny Wright joined the group near the Downtown Tunnel. Many held signs with different messages including one that read 'TOLLS ARE TAXE$.'

'I've been spending the night at my friend's house out here, so I don't have to go over there, so I don't have to worry about the tolls, because everything I do is over here.,' said Shereece Jessup, a Tidewater Community College student who spoke to 13NewsNow a short distance from the demonstration.

Chef Sydney Meers, who owns Stove in Port Norfolk, lifted a glass, as did his staff members, Saturday.

Meers sees the tolls as a new beginning of sorts. The restaurant is covering the cost for its customers, many of whom travel either the Downtown or Midtown Tunnel.

'We're drinking champagne celebrating them. They're going to come, and they're going to get a freebie, said Meers.'

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