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Louisville businesses Celebrate Wildcat's Citrus Bowl game

Local businesses say after being hard hit during the pandemic, no matter how UK fairs in the VRBO Citrus Bowl, they already feel like big winners.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For those of us who are stuck in the Ohio Valley instead of Orlando, finding the next best way to celebrate University of Kentucky's bowl birth is key.

Local businesses say after being hard hit during the pandemic, no matter how UK fairs in the VRBO Citrus Bowl, they already feel like big winners. 

"We've been really busy," said Lindsey Goodman, manager at the JD Becker off Hurstborne.  "Everybody has been dying to get out and just feel some kind of normal."

At this point, on the brink of two years in a global pandemic, what even is normal?

The Commonwealth school known for basketball is shining on New Years Day. 

Goodman said they will get the championship t-shirts when the Cats win.

When the final whistle blows for the bowl, there will be a clear winner and a clear loser. But local businesses say lately, there's times they feel like both.

"Our sales have been going through the roof," Goodman said. "Everyone is excited to go to the game for a first time in a year, or first event they've been to in a year, so they're going all out to look their best."

RELATED: LIVE | Citrus Bowl Pep Rally for Wildcats, Hawkeyes

From looking your best to watching your best, across town at Dundee Tavern in the Douglas Loop, they're gearing up for a big lunch on Jan. 1.

"When it comes to starting 2022, with a big bowl win, that'll be the new horizon and it'll project the rest of the year," said Dundee owner Alan Hincks. 

Much like the Wildcats making their second appearance in the Citrus Bowl in four years, Hincks said businesses finding themselves facing a new variant need to pull on experience.

"We're going back in to what we were going through a year ago to a point," he said.  "But this time, everyone knows what to do, and knows how to handle it."

Dundee is ready and excited to pack the house and hope for a win.

Hincks says after personally making several trips to Dawson Springs following devastating tornados, he's especially proud of the team for bearing so much more than just their names on a national stage.

"Whatever the University of Kentucky Wildcats do, they're gonna be winners as far as were concerned," Hincks said.  

"They're in a New Years Day bowl. And that's big. Them being just a basketball school? Those days are gone," he said.

You can catch the Citrus Bowl on WHAS11, Saturday, Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. 

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