Originally published Dec. 17, 2021By Kirsten Mitchell

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A holiday tradition is back in Minneapolis this weekend. Holidazzle kicked off Friday night in Loring Park, complete with music, rides and a firework show.

It’s one of several events drawing crowds back to the heart of Minneapolis. It’s also a boost for small business owners like Nicole Brecht of Simple Trends.

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“We love face to face people events so we are glad to be back this year,” Brecht said.

President and CEO of the Mpls Downtown Council Steve Cramer said downtown Minneapolis is looking bright despite a spike in crime and hardships from the pandemic. Crews are gearing up to host the Winter Classic in January and, in April, the city will host the NCAA’s Women’s Final Four.

“Those event activities that people can really only find in downtown will be a draw for our downtown, and that will be important — plus the returning to the office — so we are really going to see a significant reanimation of our downtown in 2022,” Cramer said.

According to data collected by the Mpls Downtown Council, currently buildings and hotels are around 40% occupied.

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Compared to pre-pandemic levels, restaurants citywide are serving about half the number of diners and Metro Transit light rail ridership is at 45%.

“All of those metrics consistently moved up throughout 2021, so we didn’t see any backsliding,” Cramer said.

He also points to new businesses moving to downtown like Deluxe Corporation and the Dayton’s Project.

“Slowly but surely people are going to return and have events like this that people want to come to. It’s fun,” Brecht said.

For more information on Holidazzle, click here.

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Kirsten Mitchell