MACON, Ga. – On a quiet weeknight in downtown Macon, Georgia at Kudzu Seafood, the staff rushes around, getting things ready for dinner service.
A waitress carefully wraps the silverware. The bartender wipes her counter. The kitchen hums with activity as pots and pans clink and food sizzles in the pan. It’s the calm before the storm, says owner Lee Clack. At 5 o’clock, everything changes.
“We’ll have parties and they’ll be ready for the lights at 6 o’clock,” Clack said.
Downtown Macon’s Christmas Light Extravaganza draws a crowd every night. Clack says many visit restaurants like his before the show starts.
Sure enough, like clockwork, the crowds poured in. All of this is nothing new for Clack and his crew. After all, just a few weeks ago, they ended the week with the best sales ever at their Poplar and 3rd Street location.
“Our busiest week since the Cherry Blossoms,” Clack said.
He says the lights get bigger every year, bringing more hungry diners. Clack thinks Macon’s new national press attention is a big part of the success.
“Getting a lot of great national press, not just for the Christmas lights, but that downtown Macon is one of the coolest downtowns in the South,” he said.
There’s a reason for all the national attention. Visit Macon’s goal for 2022 was to bring travel writers to the city, says Marisa Rodgers, the agency’s director of marketing.
“Trying to get the word out about the history of the music, the soon-to-be national park designation, everything that’s going to happen next year,” Rodgers said.
Conde Nast, Forbes, Southern Living and CBS Mornings all gave Macon shout-outs this year. They’ve written about Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, the growing downtown area and the amphitheater the county is building on the Macon Mall.
“Trying to show that there’s a breadth of options that can not only give you a day of fun here, but several days in a row,” Rodgers said.
If you’re in town to visit, Lee Clack hopes you’ll pay him a visit, too, to enjoy the Bay in the heart of Georgia. Rodgers says the next big thing they’re trying to attract attention to is the Cherry Blossom Festival, which starts on March 17.
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