Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Doug Luciani said he can’t speak to the economic impact of the festival alone, but that it, along with other February events, helped contribute to a “great month” for area businesses.
“There’s no numbers, however, most of the hotels in Traverse City were either at full occupancy or almost full occupancy last weekend,” he said. “The auxiliary benefit is that they weren’t just staying downtown. They went skiing, they (did other things in the area).”
At Cherry Republic on Front and Cass, just outside the outdoor activity zone, people came in mostly to get warm, said manager Samantha Byrd.
“We would love it if they closed our block, too, next year and held activities in front of our store. I think it would have been an even bigger, better event.”
Lake said festival officials already are looking ahead to next year and want input and feedback from downtown merchants and area residents.
“Expanding on Front Street is definitely something to look at,” she said, adding that the street offers both charm and relative protection from the cold winds off Grand Traverse Bay. “I think our concept of keeping everything concentrated on Front Street was a good one and something we want to do again.”
She said officials may also look at the length of the festival but likely will keep it on Presidents’ Day weekend.
“We have a lot of great things we want to continue and build on next year,” she said. “We need to keep in mind that we’re asking volunteers to work outside in the cold.”
Besides expanding the event and offering more for families, Tkach said the only thing he’d do differently is start telling people about the festival sooner.
“Being able to go from a store to out on Front Street on the Ferris wheel to a comedy show to restaurants was amazing, but I don’t think everyone got it,” he said. “Now that the word is out, this has the opportunity to be a bigger event.”