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UW-Madison graduation weekend gives boost to downtown businesses

For students only, the commencement ceremony is in-person on Saturday in Camp Randall.
Published: May. 7, 2021 at 4:56 PM CDT|Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 6:50 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - On Saturday, the UW-Madison Class of 2021 will celebrate commencement in-person. The graduation ceremony is only for the students; parents and guests of the graduates are not allowed in Camp Randall.

Area businesses say this decision is bringing a much needed influx of customers.

At Graduate Madison, general manager David Buss says the hotel is near capacity for this weekend.

“The lobby is so much more lively,” said Buss. “We’re really excited to see some of that returning now.”

After a difficult year of vacancies, Buss says guests are slowly making their way back to staying on campus.

“The occupancy is just not there when you don’t have a lot of those big city-wide events and big UW events,” said Buss. “We’re just really excited to welcome parents and welcome students.”

Down the street from Camp Randall, Sconnie Bar will be at 75 percent capacity during the ceremony.

“There’s a little bit of that buzz in the air that you get around a Badger Game Day,” said General Manager Lucas Simon Wambach. “You kind of have that in the air this weekend.”

Sconnie Bar is booked up with reservations for the early afternoon and nearly filled with reserved tables post-ceremony.

“We’ve been getting tons of phone calls in the last few weeks,” said Simon-Wambach. “Normally the families would be in Camp Randall with them so everyone is trying to figure out the best spot to go and watch the ceremony.”

UW-Madison students will have to wear face coverings and physically distance at the ceremony. Students also need to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test or their vaccination status before they will be allowed into Camp Randall.

The undergraduate ceremony begins at noon on Saturday followed by the ceremony for the students receiving graduate degrees at 4 p.m.

To watch the ceremony, click here.

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