After a quarantined summer, downtown Bozeman businesses welcomed Sweet Pea Parade spectators and increased foot traffic on Saturday.
The chalk-colored streets were barely visible under the bustling crowd on Saturday morning, awaiting the start of the 2021 Sweet Pea Parade. Children ran as they finished The Sweet Pea Run through downtown, welcomed with cheers from hundreds of parade viewers.
And with so many children running through downtown, the Great Rocky Mountain Toy Company saw an increase in foot traffic prior to the start of the parade.
“So far this morning has been pretty busy. A lot of kids doing the race today, so I think wanting to buy toys and being a part of downtown, so I think it will be a good day,” employee Eric Ottey said.
Ottey has worked at The Great Rocky Mountain Toy Company for about a year and a half and has seen the ebbs and flows of business throughout the pandemic.
Todd Simonson, Sweet Pea Parade chair, reiterates that although the parade has seen crowds up to 10,000, this year will bring roughly 2,000 to 4,000 people to Main Street.
“The downtown area counts on the parade for income. People hang around all day shopping and eating their great food,” Simonson said.
The Rocky Mountain Rug Company has experienced the Parade boom with the Sweet Pea Festival crowd. Owner Farah Neishabouri expresses the sadness she and the staff experienced during the pandemic.
“It was a sad thing to see, especially for the town of Bozeman, which is really exciting. It has a lot of activity to offer,” she said.
As events filter through downtown, Neishabouri looks forward to the increase in foot traffic and the ability to see her local clients.
"The foot traffic is great. It starts with the parade, always, and after that, we get the crowd inside," Neishabouri said.
As the parade went by, both The Rocky Mountain Rug Company and The Great Rocky Mountain Toy Company saw customers walk through their doors, with employees eager to welcome them back after the pandemic kept them apart.