Reporting Jamie Yuccas
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — “The Coolest Celebration on Earth” starts in just two days. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend the St. Paul Winter Carnival.
In the summer, it’s the Minneapolis Aquatennial that’s drawing crowds, but do the Twin Cities cash in on these big events?
It’s crunch time to get everything in place for the St. Paul Winter Carnival.
“(About) 350,000 to 400,000 people will come to Downtown St. Paul,” said Matt Kramer, with the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce.
He said they want to present the best possible view of the city to people who don’t normally cross the river.
“It’s a great opportunity to expand on something that we know we’re bringing people in. Now, we can spread them out across the St. Paul area,” Kramer said.
Moving beyond the carnival, to shops, restaurants and hotels.
“The economic analysis says somewhere between $5 (million) to $6 (million) maybe even $7 million, depending on how you calculate it, comes into the city during the Winter Carnival,” Kramer said. “We would need 20 of those events at the Ordway and at the (Xcel Energy Center) combined to bring in what the Winter Carnival brings into St. Paul.”
Most of the event costs are covered by partners or sponsors.
Just like Minneapolis does with its “Target” Holidazzle parade.
According to the Downtown Council, that event brings 400,000 people downtown — and an extra 100 customers to restaurants along the route each night.
Last summer, the Aquatennial saw similar crowds.
So together, according to Meet Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association, these events brought an estimated $36 million into Minneapolis and its businesses.
On a smaller scale, events like the Polar Plunge this Saturday in White Bear Lake also help the local economy and charity.
“This is our biggest day of the whole year,” said Jim Proulx, owner of Jimmy’s Food and Drink. “On that day we’ll probably see about 2,000 people come in and out with the plungers and their families.”
Proulx sees the benefit to other industries, too.
“It brings people to the hotel, they buy gas, they shop they do all kinds of things,” Proulx said.
Which is the goal, no matter how big or small the event.