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Michiana prepares for Notre Dame commencement

Notre Dame Commencement

Commencement weekend has officially arrived. It's one of our area's busiest weekends of the year.

Right now, families of nearly 3,500 new graduates are heading to South Bend.

Saint Mary's is hosting its graduation Saturday. Notre Dame's is Sunday.

Local businesses could make a lot of money this weekend.

"It is pretty much a city-wide, county-wide sell out and it does usually impact other counties around us as well, into south west Michigan, even into Elkhart and is a very high demand for us,” said Lindsay Ference with Visit South Bend-Mishawaka.

She says hotels, restaurants, and area attractions will be pretty full this weekend.

"I don't have an exact number but it's definitely one of the highest impact ones, into the millions for sure. It's very similar to a football weekend for us as far as the impact on the economy,” she said.

Ference says those home football games usually bring in more than a million and a half dollars.

Local businesses are already seeing some of that money.

"Our sales are pretty high, so yes it's a very good time for us," said Peg Dalton, owner of Le Peep.

Dalton says she's gotten busier and busier every day this week. Saturday will be the busiest day. It takes a lot to get through the rush.

"We all work really hard, as you can see, so that's part of it. I have a great staff and we're all ready to work very hard this weekend,” Dalton said. “We add servers, we add bussers, we add support staff everywhere so that we can handle the numbers and be a big part of people's graduation weekend."

Dalton says being part of the party is just as exciting as the boost in business.

"It's fun all weekend long. If you had been here 15 minutes ago we had the whole place singing the fight song. We are thrilled about the impact that Notre Dame has on us as a business and South Bend as a community,” Dalton said. “We wouldn't be where we are without them and we don't take that for granted for a minute. We love the students."

Ference says part of the reason this area is so packed for graduation is because going to Notre Dame runs in families.

She says parents love to come back to their alma mater to see their youngsters graduate.

Dalton says that's how it is in her restaurant. Families come back for breakfast year after year.

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