MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The 50th Anniversary of 'Bloody Sunday' is only days away. Thousands of people are already in Selma and Montgomery for the historic event. In fact, hotels in the area have been booked for months.
Joe Pears with Country Inn and Suites in Montgomery says it is sold out and reservations started last year. It's not just in Alabama's capital city, the entire River Region with 10,000 rooms is booked starting Friday.
"This by far is the biggest event we've had as far as business," Pears says. "We've been sold out for as long as we have and still today the phones are ringing off the hook, 'hey do you have rooms?' just the phone traffic, the walk-in traffic, I haven't seen anything bigger than this."
With 30,000 - 50,000 people expected to be in the city, Montgomery leaders believe the 50th anniversary is the largest impact with regards to hotel bookings the city has ever had.
I can't really quantify in dollars right now what we anticipate coming in to the Montgomery area as a result of this," says Meg Lewis with the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, "but of course there's lodging taxes and then the dollars that come in from meals that are consumed and the shopping."
Not only do people have to sleep, they have to eat, and restaurants are ready for the big crowds. Saza's Italian restaurant downtown ordered extra food and drinks, and will be fully staffed. The restaurant is taking full advantage of the extra people. It's normally not open on Saturday, but will be this weekend.
"We're just pleased to have the people and great to see it coming to Montgomery to just boost all the business around us. So, we are really excited," says Jessica Calloway, the assistant manager.
Although the bottom dollar doesn't hurt, many say this celebration will do more than just bring in the green.
"It brings everybody together to also remember how far we have come from then until now," Calloway explains.
Pears added, "It's a great way to get people here and then hopefully get them back in the future."
This weekend isn't the only big event happening for the 50th anniversary. Later this month, on the 25th, Montgomery will hold a commemorative march from the City of St. Jude to the Capitol. Leaders expect up to 10,000 people to be there.
As far as this weekend goes, we have been told hotels are booked from Birmingham to Greenville.?