Town leaders in Woodland Park hope Friday's passage of the Pro Cycling Challenge will bring much-needed customers and spending.
Debbie Miller, president of the town's Chamber of Commerce, said she expects thousands of people to attend the fifth stage of the statewide bike race as it moves to Colorado Springs.
Miller said the crowd hopefully will spend money in local restaurants that have struggled since the Waldo Canyon fire forced the closure of U.S. 24 for eight days.
"That hit us just as things were going so well," said Miller. "We're probably 20 to 25 percent down from a typical summer season."
Miller said only one restaurant went out of business this summer, but some merchants say as many as six restaurants closed permanently earlier this year.
Adele Faber is one of the more fortunate owners. She said she closed her shop, Joanie's Bakery & Delicatessen, for two days and had only an eight percent drop in sales. Strong weekend business from tourists has helped, she said.
"It's been erratic," said Faber. "We've had good days and bad days. The mud slides have hurt us, as well."
Faber said restaurants that have a strong local customer base will fare better than those that rely more on tourists. That may be why day-long events surrounding the bike race are being tailored primarily to area residents.
During the race, schools will be closed, U.S. 24 through town will briefly be closed and shuttle buses will transport people from parking areas at Walmart and two city parks. Some businesses will stay open past their normal 4 p.m. closing times.
Still, some merchants are hoping for, more than expecting, big sales on Friday.
"We're fully staffed, we have over-ordered for the week," said Faber. "We expect a lot of people in town. As far as how many people will be eating and drinking, I don't know."
Miller said she hopes the race will start an economic boost that will continue with events scheduled through the end of September.