PUEBLO, Colo. - The annual crowd at the Pueblo Riverwalk holiday lighting ceremony could be tame compared with larger future events that officials are hoping for.
An estimated 3,500 people attended Friday night's ceremony which included Santa Claus and a fireworks show. But officials say expanding and improving the Riverwalk will attract more businesses, more events and bigger crowds.
Kevin Oriz, director of marketing and operations for the Riverwalk, said officials plan to invest $137 million in the facility during the next 15 years.
"Our top goal is to bring tourism here and have out-of-town people spend their money. Anyone who thinks the Riverwalk is finished, that's not the case."
Pueblo resident Manuel Pena said he visits the Riverwalk twice a month, and has ides on what he's like to see there.
"More restaurants where people can have breakfast, lunch and dinner," said Pena. "Bring the families out here more, evenings and weekends. I'd like to see more entertainment at night."
The newest restaurant on the Riverwalk is The Sicilian, an Italian eatery and bakery that opened during the summer. Manager Nicole Jasper cites what she describes as the excitement and potential of the Riverwalk.
"Business is about what we expected," said Jasper. "Sometimes when it's cold, there's not a lot of people out. But business is great and I think it'll get better."
Ortiz said officials want the Riverwalk to one day rival its famous San Antonio namesake.
The Riverwalk's future also affects the nearby convention center. A renovation there begins in 2014.