Holiday Starlight Parade boosts downtown business
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Business owners are counting their cash after the Holiday Starlight Parade.
The parade returned to the Scenic City this year, after lack of funding canceled the event in 2010.
The winter months are typically slow for downtown business owners. In fact, they depend on special events to bring out the crowds and boost sales.
The streets were packed with parade goers late into the night Saturday. After missing out on those sales last year, downtown business owners are happy to see the parade make a comeback.
"The traffic and the public from the parade brought in so much business," says Tiffany Killelea.
The cash register at Cheeburger Cheeburger is full Sunday after a chaotic night of serving parade goers.
"As soon as the parade is halfway over, that's when people start coming in," Killelea says. "I knew that I needed to stop watching the parade and come back inside."
Killelea has worked at Cheeburger Cheeburger for five years and says the restaurant definitely felt the effect when the parade was canceled last year.
Saturday night Cheeburger Cheeburger raked in about $1,000 more in sales than a typical Saturday night in December.
"Last year was the first time we weren't busy on this one day," she says.
Chattanooga Presents was forced to cut the annual parade when zero sponsorship meant they couldn't come up with the $15,000 needed for insurance, security, road closure and staffing costs.
Even two months ago organizers weren't sure if the 2011 parade would come together, then Volkswagen stepped in.
"We sold a lot of coffee," says Shawn Johnson, Kitchen Manager at Taziki's Cafe. "It was nice and cold last night."
For new businesses like Taziki's, the parade not only boosted business but also gave them an opportunity to promote.
"We had a bunch of newcomers that had never been to the restaurant before," Johnson says. "So it was a good opportunity for them to come in and experience us, and hopefully they'll come back."
Chattanooga Presents won't say how much the automaker gave, but they did say it was a generous a donation.
A total of 60 organizations walked in the Starlight event, making it a success all around.
"It definitely felt like a summer day," Killelea says. "We did a lot in sales and most of it was last night."
The parade line-up included floats, walking units, bands and balloons.
In a statement, Volkswagen Chattanooga CEO Frank Fisher says, "I am so pleased that Volkswagen was able to help re-establish the parade so that this family event can continue to be a part of the holiday season in Chattanooga".
Channel 3 will broadcast the Starlight Holiday Parade in its entirety on December 17th at 1:00 p.m.