Graduation weekend is upon us. More than 30,000 people are expected for Notre Dame and Saint Mary's graduation celebrations.
It's all about the graduate. And the degree.
"I love Saint Mary's, I’m sad that it’s over," said graduating senior Kelly Murphy.
"He's worked very, very hard and deserved every honor he’s been given," said Cathy Ervele.
But after the ceremony is over it's all about the celebration.
"The stress is off and it’s really a nice time to be together," Ervele said.
It's the culmination of college, grad school or that PhD, and families are taking in all South Bend has to offer.
"Going to dinner with my parents then going to the College Football Hall of Fame with a big group," Murphy said.
And that means business is looking bright for the city.
"We see almost a full house and more banquets in our conference center because everyone is throwing their graduation parties as well," said Brooke Gallagher from the Hilton Garden Inn.
Hotels close to campus are pricey, but they're pretty much full, so some parents are "roughing it" for a few nights.
"Spent the night in the dorm...that was kind of fun!" said Kelly Murphy’s mother.
But parents are so proud, in the end they're willing to splurge a little to show their pride.
"People are looking for that special night out to take their graduate out to dinner," Gallagher said.
"We expect to be busy," said Kurt Janowsky from Café Navarre.
Café Navarre in South Bend has been open for less than a year but word quickly got out this was the place to be.
“We're pretty booked for groups of 6 or larger,” Janowsky said.
From downtown South Bend to Eddy Street Commons, businesses traffic flow through the city on Friday was solid for sales.
"We’re happy to see all these folks from out of town come in and patronize the restaurants," Janowsky said.
A few years ago, the university moved the commencement ceremony to the football stadium.
Since then, the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce said graduation weekend has become one of the biggest weekends for the city every year, coming in a close second to a big football weekend.
They say in a few years, they see this graduation weekend drawing in even more crowds than a football game weekend.
Notre Dame's graduation is Sunday at 9 a.m. A former Notre Dame athlete, Haley Scott DeMaria, will be the commencement speaker. DeMaria was temporarily paralyzed in 1992 when a bus carrying the Notre Dame swim team crashed near campus. Her remarkable recovery story inspires people around the world.
Saint Mary's College is holding commencement ceremonies on Saturday. This year's speaker will be Mellody Hobson. She is president of the Chicago-based money management firm Ariel Investments. Ceremonies begin at noon at Le Mans Hall.