Cheers and beers: Downtown businesses celebrate marathon weekend

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) There is a buzz in the air in downtown Green Bay as the 20th Cellcom Green Bay Marathon draws closer.

For the first time in more than a decade, Sunday's marathon events start and finish downtown.

Businesses are eager to welcome new crowds, already planning plenty of activities for runners and spectators alike.

"We're excited. It's right in our backyard, and it's a great venue for the downtown to be able to showcase all the businesses. It's going to be a lot of fun," says Jesse Wotruba, owner of Fox Harbor on Washington Street.

If you or someone you know are among the thousands of runners participating in the marathon events, you are in for the royal treatment.

Businesses are rolling out the red carpet to welcome Sunday's events back downtown.

"Just getting more people to the downtown area is a huge win for all of Green Bay," says Brian Bunkelman, co-owner of the Sardine Can on Broadway.

What would normally be a quiet, early Sunday morning will be anything but.

Several businesses, like the Sardine Can along the half-marathon course, are calling in extra staff and opening early.

"7 a.m. Sunday morning, we'll be ready to go for anybody that wants to come in at that point and time and start cheering on," says Bunkelman. "We'll have a station to make posters and signs and cheer everybody on."

Along the full marathon course, plenty of live entertainment will create a party atmosphere at Fox Harbor, less than a mile from the finish line.

"We have live entertainment. Panic Station will be here from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We teamed up with the great people at Wisconsin Brewing Company. They'll be in sampling out some new summer beers," says Wotruba.

Starting at 9 a.m., spectators can enjoy 'donuts and kegs' at Titletown Brewery, and head to the rooftop for the perfect view of the finish line at Leicht Park next door.

"It's kind of perfect, because you have the whole city in the backdrop," says JD Gildemeister, general manager at Titletown Brewery.

Businesses are trying to cater to a crowd of spectators sticking around for hours.

"With the Farmer's Market kicking off in about two weeks, that's kind of the atmosphere we're looking to have is there's going to be a lot of people here, that electric enthusiasm of people cheering, so we're very excited," says Bunkelman.

Businesses say this has been years in the making.

"We, of course, love it. It generates a lot of business, but then even just to partner with it. There's a lot of people coming for the Cellcom that never would have seen Titletown," says Gildemeister.

"We've been asking this for years," says Wotruba. "This is a perfect spot for it, so hopefully it's for years to come."

Titletown is also handing out Sno-Cap Root Beer at mile 24.

The popular 26.2 Brew, created just for race day, will also make a return to the finish line.

"It is an American wheat beer, so it's got those tastes of fruity and floral notes that everyone loves, and it's that perfect wheat beer for the finish line," explains Gildemeister.

Even with the start and finish lines at Lambeau Field in the past several years, the downtown area has still been busy on marathon weekend.

But they hope having it at their doorstep this year will provide a unique new experience to keep people coming back.

"Now you get the bonus of extra hotels and the start, the finish, so it should just bring it to another level," adds Wotruba.