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Think lots of food, drink, music, entertainment ... and wall-to-wall people.
Downtown restaurants and businesses are gearing up for one of their biggest parties ever, closing off portions of Fourth and Washington streets the night before and the day of the Sept. 28 Mill Race Marathon.
Expect to see adults dancing in the streets to live bands, while children bounce on the bungee jump and maneuver the rock-climbing wall.
And as long as you’re between 50 and 250 pounds, you can take your turn on the zip line, gliding through the air, attached with a safety harness to a secure line that will stretch a half-block along Fourth Street between Washington and Franklin streets.
To quench your thirst and satisfy your appetite, more than 20 vendors will set up, selling beer to lemonade or burgers to pizza. You also can do a little shopping at craft booths.
Organizers expect around 10,000 people to take part in activities, based on the number of runners who will sign up and a rule-of-thumb that each will bring along up to three people.
“We’re telling each food vendor to plan on serving 1,000 people,” said Steve Leach, who co-owns The Garage Pub & Grill with his wife, Tonya.
But don’t think this weekend of fun is just for the runners and walkers celebrating their finish in the marathon, half-marathon or 5-kilometer events.
This is for the community.
Leach is serving as one of the main entertainment organizers with Kurt Schwarze, who owns Fourth Street Bar & Grill with his wife, Kelly. Leach and Schwarze said they got on board as owners of downtown businesses, but their involvement extended beyond traditional roles.
They want to make this party a great city event for Columbus residents and out-of-town visitors.
“We’re very proud to take part in this,” Schwarze said. “Columbus residents should really look forward to showcasing their community and being part of the party and cheering on all of the runners.”
Schwarze and Leach smile a little nervously when they talk about the weather. Most of the entertainment events will be outdoors, and the business owners don’t have alternate indoor plans since downtown restaurants cannot accommodate such large crowds.
They and their sponsors have invested quite a bit up front for the cost of the weekend events, but they said they were willing to take that risk to be part of the weekend.
This entertainment portion of the marathon weekend is privately funded and separate from the business sponsorship of the marathon running events. It receives no city funds.
“We’re contributing our time and revenue because we want this to be really great,” Leach said.
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