Cities roll out welcome mat, apps for Super Bowl

Central Indiana communities are launching smartphone applications, decorating cards to welcome visitors and taking other steps to promote local attractions in hopes of capitalizing on thousands of Super Bowl fans descending on the region for the Feb. 5 game.

Tourism officials in Kokomo are working on an app that includes pictures of local attractions and information on restaurants and lodging. Indianapolis and Columbus already have similar apps, and Hamilton County is developing one, the Kokomo Tribune reported.

The areas are all included in a list of 17 Super Celebration Sites chosen by the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee.

The sites reach as far south as Columbus and as far north as Lafayette.

Each area will get its own page on a Web site showing special events for visitors and residents the weekend of the Super Bowl, Diana Boyce, a spokeswoman for the Super Bowl Host Committee, told the Daily Journal in Franklin. Restaurants and attractions in each community will be included on handouts and maps given to local hotel guests.

Christian Maslowski, executive director of the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce, said communities are scheduling events themed around the game, including a 5K run in Franklin and discounts for local merchants.

A spelling bee in January will help raise money for promotions and decorations that link Johnson County to the Super Bowl, Maslowski said.

Johnson County also is enlisting local students to create 3,000 welcome cards that will go into hotel rooms of visitors.

In Franklin, community organizers plan to hang banners and have shops and restaurants put up blue lights and decorate their windows for the Super Bowl, said Tricia Bechman, executive director of the Franklin Chamber of Commerce

Boyce said not all of the 150,000 visitors expected for the game will be able to stay in Indianapolis, and the committee hopes to spread the wealth of visitors ready to spend money among more places.

Maslowski said he hopes local residents and businesses get excited about the opportunity.

"This is our time to shine. The Super Bowl is more than Indianapolis. Visitors will be coming to a much bigger area. It's going to take the entire metro community to pull this off," Maslowski said.

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