SEC Tournament, St. Patrick's Day drive big weekend downtown - WKRN News 2

SEC Tournament, St. Patrick's Day drive big weekend downtown

Posted: Updated: March 15, 2013 09:16 PM

Two big events this weekend are expected to draw thousands of people to downtown Nashville.

One of the events has already attracted thousands of out of state visitors.

The 2013 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament began Wednesday and runs through Sunday.

Saturday the 1st Annual St. Paddy's Day Festival will take place on Broadway between Third and Fourth Avenues. The event was able to happen after the final permits were approved Wednesday.

A number of visitors are surprised to see how many activities are being held downtown this weekend.  

"It's awesome, a great view all around," Kyle Riecthman said. "I really appreciate the environment here."

University of Kentucky basketball fans made up a large portion of the crowd Friday.

Francine Sloan and Jeanna Mullins are members of the Wildcat Princess Club. The ladies wore blue wigs and blue boas.

"This is our favorite town," Sloan said. "We love Nashville; we love to come to the city because it's always a great time."

Even though blue and white are the only colors they typically wear during the game, they may make an exception this weekend.

"We will have on blue," Mullins said. "But we will have a little touch of green."

Businesses are also enjoying the influx of people.

The NHL lock out hit some small businesses on Lower Broadway hard because hockey fans typically fill a void left by the slow down of tourism during the winter.

Dough Joe's Hot Dogs was feeling the stress, but is having strong sales during the SEC Tournament.

"We are really looking forward to the whole weekend," Bill Hall with Dough Joe's Hot Dogs said. "The weather is being cooperative, the crowds are being cooperative and everybody is in a festive mood.

He continued, "And they are spending money."

Metro police have officers patrolling on foot as well as on horses.

This weekend the department has added officers to help control the crowds, while also looking out for impaired drivers.

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