Thousands of visitors expected as commencement weekend kicks off for 3 area colleges
This weekend is one of the biggest for tourism in the South Bend-Mishawaka area.
Holy Cross, Saint Mary's and Notre Dame are all holding commencement ceremonies this weekend.
Holy Cross kicked the events Saturday with its commencement at 11 a.m.
It happened at the Pfeil Recreation Center.
One of the young people picking up a diploma Saturday was Mary Freeby.
We shared Mary's story with you over the course of the last year. She faced a life threatening blood disease.
She received a bone marrow transplant late last year and it was quite a celebration as Mary got a chance to speak at graduation.
Saint Mary's' commencement was Saturday morning inside the Angela Athletic and Wellness Complex. Watch our report here.
And on Sunday commencement for Notre Dame begins at 11 a.m. at Notre Dame Stadium. It was held back one hour because of expected rain.
Brazilian Judge Sergio Moro will serve as this year's Notre Dame commencement speaker.
Moro is a federal judge who has gained international recognition and commendation for his sentencing of powerful Brazilian politicians and business leaders on corruption charges.
He will receive an honorary degree at Sunday's ceremony.
If you're unable to make it to the ceremony Sunday, you're in luck.
Notre Dame is streaming the entire thing live on their website.
Those graduation ceremonies will bring a big surge of visitors to our area.
Businesses are preparing for a busy weekend.
Some restaurants are even changing their menus for this weekend.
This is in hopes that people will not only visit South Bend, but also plan their next trip back.
With about 30,000 visitors expected in South Bend this weekend for commencement, local businesses are preparing.
"We have a lot of large groups coming in graduates coming in with their parents and extended families, often a whole dorm floor will come with."
Peg Dalton, the owner of Pegg's Restaurant, says she started taking reservations for graduation weekend months ago.
She says she her business has been popular with college students, so she expects a lot of customers this weekend.
"Our student business has continued to increase over the past several years. We have seen a lot of underclassman and we hope that grows."
Hotels also are expecting a lot of guests this weekend.
The Double Tree is one of three hotels in Downtown South Bend that expects zero vacancy this weekend.
Café Navarre is another restaurant that has been preparing for a busy weekend.
It's even changed up its menu in preparation for a lot of guests.
"The biggest thing in preparation for commencement is rolling out our new menu, so people can have something new," a Café Navarre spokesperson told WSBT 22.
This weekend will bring a lot of visitors and the city hopes these visitors won't remain strangers to the South Bend area.
Those alumni hopefully can come back for years and years and years and then eventually maybe be a legacy to send their kids to any of the colleges.
Some restaurants have been booked solid for weeks.
Cafe Navarre employees told WSBT they've had to turn people away because they are so booked.