That time of year is almost here, the annual opening ceremony of the State Games. The games bring thousands of people into Meridian, and they leave plenty of money behind. The opening ceremonies are so large that the economic impact is felt for miles.
"The community as a whole, it's a tremendous economic boost. Motels are filled up; not just here, but up and down the highway." John McClure, executive director of Meridian Main Street, tells us. The communities 30 miles away are filling up as well, so great for the city, the downtown. I can't say enough how excited we are."
The excitement to bring such a financial boom to the city is different now than when the opening ceremonies first arrived.
"When we first created this event and brought it to this community, we understood that it could have a tremendous economic impact in the future, but I don't think anybody involved in those first days had a clue it could become as big as it has," McClure states.
One of the newest restaurants in the city, Mugshots on North Hills Street, will experience its first State Games. Officials there tell us they are prepared for the increased traffic this weekend, and have been doing plenty of marketing.
Jim Hicks, owner of Mugshots, says, "We are just looking forward to a high turnout all weekend with a lot of visitors from out of town. We know that the hotels are all booked up, and we have menus, to go menus, in all the hotels to try and bring in some of the tourism. We want to provide good food for all the out of town guests."
All of the festivities begin tomorrow at 5:30pm. The Parade of Athletes is at 7:30pm, and a fireworks display will follow.